By Mike Templeton
There are many media sources one can follow to keep up with what is going on in and around Appalachia. The Urban Appalachian Community Coalition works to bring you many of these through this blog and in the newsletter. Among the most exciting new resources in Appalachia right now is a new online magazine geared towards younger Appalachians called YNST.
YNST stands for “You’re Not Seeing Things,” and the idea behind this magazine is something we can all get behind. The name refers to the simple fact that too many people outside Appalachia and Appalachian communities are not seeing what Appalachia and Appalachian people are really about. We can easily start here with the negative stereotypes that seem to stand in for the reality Appalachian life, but the premise here goes much deeper. Even within Appalachian communities, people just are not seeing things that need to be seen. Adam Payne makes it his mission to reveal these things with the online magazine YNST.
Payne said the germ of the magazine began with some cohorts in graduate school. He told me he had been “immersed in the West Virginia Arts scene, and a few of us began a media club that eventually transferred into a small media company. At the time, this was very general and not necessarily focused on Appalachia.” Payne and others moved on from these projects, and this led to the beginnings of YNST. It was his involvement with and exposure to the arts scene around Morgantown that spurred him to make people aware that all of this was going on. There was and is so much art, music, writing, and theater happening all over the Appalachian region, and Payne set out to show the world that Appalachia is far more than most people could know.
Adam Payne definitely speaks from a place of experience. He is originally from, and still lives in, Wheeling, West Virginia. Payne is an actor and artist. After graduating from West Virginia University where he studied journalism and acting, he went on to get his master’s degree in digital communications. All of this—his life in West Virginia, his artistic calling, and his educational training—put him in the nearly ideal position to start up on online magazine. It is hard to imagine anyone more qualified.
Adam Payne told me the project began with the name. “We started with the knowledge that people are not seeing things, that there is so much more happening in and with Appalachia, and people are not able to see these things. We knew we were fighting stereotypes, and media images that were horrible.” From this germ of an idea, the project took off. Payne said that people are not seeing the multiple representations and viewpoints that make up Appalachia and Appalachian people.
Payne and others felt the need to explore the fact that “there so much radical politics and thinking that comes out of Appalachian experiences, and these ideas are all bound up with the arts and other modes of culture.” To pin down a way of presenting all of this in YNST so that people could access and follow everything, the magazine is divided into three sections. “Visions” focuses on arts and artists. This section offers a gallery of art works and articles about the artists and their works. The Visions section provides a window into the many perspectives that artists are representing within Appalachian life and culture. In this section you will find visual arts, music of all kinds, and leaders in digital arts. Arts in YNST is as broad a category as can be imagined.
Another section of the magazine is called “Looks.” This centers on fashion and photography. A magazine focused on a younger audience must necessarily integrate things like fashion, and this is an area that relies heavily on the photographic image. Here again, this is another area in which Adam Payne is working to fight stereotypes and negative images. He told me, “I am excited about this section because fashion is about the last thing people think of when they think of Appalachia, but creatives in the Appalachian regions are leaders in this field.” That fashion and photography are highlighted in YNST is a testament to not only the vision of the magazine but also the reality of the contemporary cultural life of the Appalachian region. If you are not aware of this, it is because you are not seeing things.
The third section of YNST is called “Perspectives.” Here you will find writing, poetry, interviews, and other written forms that take on and reveal the perspectives of young people in Appalachia today. These are the literary, philosophical, and visionary writers of those who are shaping the Appalachian region right now. Adam Payne and others are going to great lengths to get these writers, poets, and thinkers published and known to a much wider readership.
Adam Payne told me the long-term goal is to take YNST to a much larger audience. “We want to develop this into a national brand and make it an outlet where artists and others can come to us as a resource to connect them with resources and other artists. And we would like YNST to help artists and other creatives to stay in the region.” These are the voices of the artists, writers, poets, and creatives who will come to define Appalachia for a new generation. YNST is exactly the kind of resource that infuses new perspectives into the work of Urban Appalachian Community Coalition and others who work to advocate for Appalachian people.
The website for YNST can be found at this link: https://mailchi.mp/a6e68bf6e3de/ynst?es_id=fab87fa9e5.
YNST can also be found in Instagram at this link: https://www.instagram.com/ynstmagazine/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ynstmagazine.
Mike Templeton is a writer, independent scholar, barista, cook, guitar player, and accidental jack-of-all-trades. He is the author of the forthcoming The Chief of Birds: A Memoir. Available later this year from Erratum Press, and Impossible to Believe, forthcoming from Iskra Books. Check out his profile in UACC’s new Cultural Directory. He lives in downtown Cincinnati with his wife who is a talented photographer. They spend their free time walking around the city snapping photos. She looks up at that the grandeur of the city, while Mike always seems to be staring at the ground.