Observations and personal reflections from the Yew Mountain Center.
So once upon a time there was a remote farming community way up in the highlands of West Virginia. It was blessed with the absence of coal, the proximity of an undeveloped mountain range and the security of plentiful year-round rainfall.
During the 19th and 20th centuries a rich culture of small farms and small towns developed. The valleys were populated by folks living close to the earth, working hard and producing virtually everything they needed: food, shelter, warmth, music and community.
Many old timers recall having no money but never feeling poor. During the fabulous fifties after World War II many young people were drawn to large industrial centers elsewhere to accept good-paying jobs. Many of the folks who remained began to feel not so rich.
Now, in the extensively industrialized 21 st century the rare clean, quiet, remote places are again being recognized for their inherent richness. However, the economies of these remote places are not regarded as rich.
The Yew Mountain Center seeks to honor the heritage of the local economy, recognize the potential for local production of foods, shelters and arts, acknowledge the sustainable technologies of the day and explore ways that we can help move the Appalachian experience forward.
A big part of honoring the heritage of this place is to seek to understand the complexity of the fabulous natural environment that sustains all life here.
Additionally we are dedicated to maintaining relevance to the greater local community.
So this week we celebrate our humble first anniversary. Looking back over our notes from one year ago, we are heartened that we seem to have stayed reasonably true to our original dream. We have had programs on natural sciences; had programs on traditional wild foods and medicines; held events involving live music, art and writing; planted the first of our non-timber forest products; and provided free field trips for local schools.
…and all of this has happened with just three very part time employees whose hours total
those of one half-time worker. There have been hundreds of hours of volunteer time.
We want 2018 to build on the momentum of 2017 and to do that we will need to increase the hours of our three dedicated part-time employees, Erica, Robin and Marlyn.
…and to do that we are going to need more money!
We have a start on a good thing here at the Yew! It will take a few years to reach
the point of self-sustainability so please send us your generous tax deductible donations.
Bob Must is one of the founders of the Yew Mountain Center and has served as president of the board of directors since its inception. His dedication to serving youth in our area and protecting local ecology has helped shape the culture and values of our organization.