The Urban Appalachian Community Coalition draws its commitment and service to Cincinnati Appalachians from the establishment in 1964 of the Main Street Bible Center. Under the direction of Ernie Mynatt, the Center operated a storefront at Main and Woodward that served neighborhood Appalachians. The initiative ran continuously through a number of organizations, chiefly the Urban Appalachian Council, which incorporated in 1974 to “promote a decent quality of life for Appalachian citizens of Greater Cincinnati.” In 2014 the Council’s service components were absorbed into other local organizations. The Council was reorganized as UACC, an advocacy coalition that continues to be the chief voice for Cincinnati area Appalachians.
UACC Core Team and Stewards
When UACC was reorganized in 2014, we designated our founding collective of fifty-or-so community leaders as its “Stewards,” who gathered over the course of that year to imagine a new future for the organization. From these individuals, a Core Team was formed to oversee the ongoing operation of the organization.
The Core Team is a group of individuals who provide staff support to the network of UACC volunteers. This includes providing resources and coordination for the Action Groups which carry out much of the programmatic work of the organization. Working with the Stewards and the Action Groups they help provide the energy and direction for this part of the Appalachian movement.
Current Members are Michael Maloney, Maureen Sullivan (both former Executive Directors of the Urban Appalachian Council), Jeffrey Dey, Pauletta Hansel, Nancy Laird, Elissa Yancey and Sherry Cook Stanforth. The Core Team meets bimonthly to oversee the ongoing affairs of UACC.
The goal of the Core Team is to develop an inclusive, democratic, and sustainable framework in which our urban Appalachian voices can be heard and expressed in action. For information, contact us at [email protected].
UACC also holds “Core Plus” meetings on months alternating with Core meetings. Core+ events are open to Stewards and other community members who might be involved with particular UACC initiatives. In recent years, Core+ has hosted an annual formal gathering to engage the community with the work of UACC.
The UACC Core Team, the Stewards, and others are involved in many initiatives that provide support and advocacy for Cincinnati Appalachians.
The Advocacy Action Team plays a key role in the UACC – to assure that policy makers and service providers understand and meet the needs of greater Cincinnati’s Urban Appalachian community.
Under the leadership of Michael Maloney the Advocacy Action Team works for inclusion of the urban Appalachian community in decisions that affect us. When the mayor appointed a Child Poverty Steering Committee with no Appalachian representation, our Advocacy Action Team organized a city-wide Appalachian Child Poverty Forum, resulting in the inclusion of Appalachian data and strategies in the Child Poverty Collaborative’s final report. UACC is partnering with Interact for Health, the Cincinnati Health Department, and the Center for Closing the Health Gap to maintain a database on the health of the Appalachian Community. Without these and other advocacy efforts, low-income urban Appalachian families would remain invisible and thus underserved.
UACC Stewards operate as urban Appalachian advocates in many organizations throughout the greater Cincinnati area and beyond including The AMOS Project, The Appalachian Studies Association, The Child Poverty Collaborative Steering Committee, Cincinnati Community Coalition, the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Community Matters, Education Matters, The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Lower Price Hill Women’s Group, Oyler School, Price Hill Will, The Rookwood Civic Collaboration, Santa Maria Community Services, The Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative, The Woman’s City Club and more.
On the Archives Team, we seek to collect media and materials that document and discuss migrant and urban Appalachian experiences that may interest contemporary journalists, poets, screenwriters, novelists, scholars, and future generations. A complete bibliography of urban Appalachian literature and media can be found here.
We direct photos, correspondence, publications, A/V materials, and every kind of written material about urban Appalachians to the archive in the Hutchins Library at Berea College. This includes newspaper clippings; pamphlets and brochures; meeting minutes; programs and program advertisements (including posters); recordings of speeches, concerts, and poetry readings; documentaries; interviews and/or transcripts; and any other material relevant to migration or urban Appalachians. This is part of a living history that tells a story that needs to be both retold and preserved.
The Hutchins Library archive is already home to the Southern Appalachian Collection as well as multiple personal and organizational collections specifically dedicated to urban Appalachians. As such, the Berea archive has become the premier repository and publicly-accessible resource for urban Appalachian materials. In addition to preserving records, the Berea archive is actively engaged in enlarging and promoting the use of its collection of urban Appalachian materials and welcomes all who wish to use them.
Books and other resources on Appalachia can also be donated to the Frank Foster Memorial Library at Education Matters in Cincinnati, Ohio. This library will remain in Cincinnati at Education Matters as a resource collection for all persons interested in Appalachia. Most of the library’s holdings have been cataloged online the UACC LibraryThing profile at https://www.librarything.com/catalog/UACCLib. More information can be found here.
We welcome the assistance of anyone else interested in this aspect of UACC’s work. If you have any questions or donations, please contact Phil Obermiller at [email protected] who leads this Action Team. You can also contact Rachel Vagts, Head of Special Collections and Archives at Berea College at [email protected].
Our work within the communications team is about creating spaces that support conversations and the sharing of information by and about urban Appalachians. This Action Team takes the UACC’S Calling as its guide and includes website development for the UACC, managing our listserve, maintaining the UACC events calendar, consulting with other UACC Action Teams, and creating the UACC’s weekly newsletter and blog which features stories and essays from a variety of urban Appalachian voices. We also maintain an urban Appalachian Community Coalition Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/uaccvoice/.
Urban Appalachians are a significant population in the Greater Cincinnati area, but have not always enjoyed full access or consideration in important conversations in the city. The UACC is actively involved in supporting and advocating for Appalachian voices and concerns, and the Communications Team seeks to support that work through various media and spaces for entering conversations. We use a distributed strategy for sharing work between us and work to support and encourage the communication efforts of other UACC Action Teams.
The UACC Communications Team welcomes involvement in our work, whether it is to write a blog or share information about a relevant event. Please contact UACC media specialist Erinn Sweet at [email protected].
Community Engagement takes the form of a number of overlapping initiatives designed to bring people together to discuss, celebrate and participate in Appalachian cultural education and advocacy.
Through the work of its Stewards, the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition continues to lend support to community-driven activities in neighborhoods once served by the Urban Appalachian Council. Coordinated by Nancy Laird ([email protected]), these include:
Ringin’ in an Appalachian New Year, an annual celebration held noon- five pm the Sunday of the Martin Luther King Day Weekend, Ringin’ includes a potluck dinner, music, square dancing and more.
Lower Price Hill Community Festival is an annual celebration of Appalachian Music held in Lower Price Hill the weekend before the larger Appalachian Festival at Coney Island. 2017 marks its 40th year.
Activities sponsored by community partners and supported by UACC in various ways have included the Lower Price Hill Women’s Group, The Back to School Fair, the Bend in the River Festival, Women’s Health Fair, Hope Over Heroin, the Northside Square Dance, and many more.
—Story Gathering Project
The Urban Appalachian Community Coalition Story Gathering Project’s purpose is to engage members of our community in informally gathering and recording interviews with people of Appalachian descent in the greater Cincinnati area, and to collect and share these stories. Browse our vast collection of nearly 50 interviews here and enjoy “stitched” together interview clips that discuss various themes and aspects of urban Appalachian life and culture in our Video Quilt collection here. If you are interested in contributing to our Story Gathering Project, please click here to get started.
The collaborative mission, shared by the Originary Arts Initiative and the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition, provides a platform to
cultivate creative action, arts curiosity, &cultural empathy
inspire dynamic reflection about real or imagined community places & people
emphasize apprenticeship values and connections between emerging & experienced writers, artists, and leaders
The Place Keepers Wide Open Mic series highlights the talent of young (teens/twenties) people from all over the Northern KY/Greater Cincinnati area, surrounding counties, and beyond. Participants share original poetry, short prose, visual art, music, or drama virtually and in local venues across the Greater Cincinnati area.
Place Keepers @ Service in the Community celebrates art in action through on-ground community place keeping. Their inaugural event took place at Chamberlain Park where they joined the Mill Creek Alliance in cleaning up the Upper Mill Creek.
There is more to come with Place Keepers! If you are interested in participating or getting involved, please email [email protected].
—Literary & Cultural Events
UACC has sponsored many literary and cultural events throughout the city both in-person and virtually.
Don’t Cry for Us (2020) – On December 3, 2020, Downbound Books, the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition and West Virginia University Press co-sponsored “Don’t Cry for Us J.D. Vance, A Reading by Ohio Appalachian Authors,” a program intended to broaden awareness of Appalachia and its people by offering a reading from some of Ohio’s most respected Appalachian authors and advocates. Short readings were followed by a conversation about the strengths and challenges of Appalachian communities, both urban and rural. Presenters were Gregory Kornbluh of Downbound Books (co-host), Pauletta Hansel of the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition (co-host and author), and Omope Carter Daboiku, Kari Gunter Seymour, Richard Hague, Michael Henson, Michael Maloney, Dale Marie Prenatt, Bonnie Proudfoot and Sherry Cook Stanforth (authors).
Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Efforts – In September 2022, UACC served as the fiscal sponsor for the EKY Flood Relief Benefit that featured several urban Appalachian writers and organizers. All proceeds supported the Hindman Settlement School‘s Flood Relief Fund. We recognizes that the work is not over. We are discussing additional opportunities that continue to raise monetary funds and social support for communities affected by the 2022 floods.
— Story Circles
Pauletta Hansel ([email protected]) is available to lead this community development practice for identifying the assets, needs, and goals of our Urban Appalachian community. Story Circles emphasize deep listening as a process for groups to explore and engage with their own histories and current concerns in meaningful ways. This community story gathering process connects people with each other through stories and uses those stories to help identify the assets, needs and goals of our urban Appalachian community. Through story circles, we engage people in the work of the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition, and assure that the wisdom and knowledge of all community members can be incorporated into our activities. Read some more about Story Circles on our blog.
Cultural Resources Team
Cultural Resources include artists, musicians, writers and speakers on various topics, as well as cultural competence training information, films and other materials. Work is concerned with the gathering and dissemination of information about Appalachian history and culture, including an online cultural resources registry that can be accessed here.
Our work within the Cultural Resources team is concerned with the gathering and dissemination of information about Appalachian history and culture, including an online cultural resources directory. Cultural Resources include artists, musicians, writers and speakers on various topics, as well as cultural competence training information, films and other materials.
This group will ensure that UACC has a functioning library, online cultural resources registry, and in-service training program for educators and service providers. Its members will also help provide information for the UACC website and social media. The UACC library at Education Matters will be a focus of these activities. Coordination of the library will be provided by Maureen Sullivan with assistance of other volunteers. UACC has access not only to multimedia materials on Appalachian history and culture but to artists, writers, and craftspeople who embody it. There is broad public interest and it is our job to provide the means to address that interest. Appalachian artists, writers, poets, craftspeople, and others can join our soon-to-come online cultural resources registry. Individuals can volunteer to assist with the operation of our library or to serve as speakers or trainers on Appalachian culture.
Rev. Joe Henry and Maureen Sullivan, along with other UACC volunteers, provide leadership for making the resource materials available and for the gathering and dissemination of information about Appalachian history and culture. If you have questions or interests, please contact Maureen at [email protected].
Volunteers working in the Health group are Stewards from the UACC Core and other Action Teams. Concerned with the health and well-being of urban Appalachians in Cincinnati, we are conducting an assessment of health needs and assets. We will interview community-based advocates and organizations active in community health, public health planners and researchers as well as service providers to develop a data collection tool that will help us compile information, opinions and anecdotes so we can prioritize health-related needs, build on community assets, and propose a Health Action Plan for the UACC.
Our emphasis is on the mental and emotional well-being of our urban Appalachian community. Our aim is to collect meaningful health-related information that can be used to identify key health improvement goals which the UACC might address in the future. With priority health issues described and community assets summarized, the UACC can work with community residents and service providers to implement effective strategies to bring about positive change in the health and well-being of urban Appalachians.
To become involved in this work, contact Katie Brown ([email protected]), who is coordinating the development and conduct of this community health profile. We welcome the input of individuals with interest, information and/or relevant experience with health-related challenges and knowledge of model initiatives in our communities. We need assistance from a cross-section of people to develop a comprehensive and in-depth data collection tool. In order to include all critical perspectives, we need suggestions of people and/or organizations that should be approached in this data-collection process. We also need individuals willing to conduct these interviews and/or identify and summarize existing data sources with relevance to our objective.
One of the oldest continuing research committees in the Cincinnati area, this group meets regularly to share updates about projects that focus on or benefit Urban Appalachian communities. To learn more about UACC research visit the Research Committee page.