I have been lax in posting some of the other video and slideshow work Kate Long and I have done for her excellent ongoing Charleston Gazette series, “The Shape We’re In.” This one above may appeal to folks with a bent for historic images of West Virginia and Appalachia. The slideshow and Kate’s related article trace how the literal shape of things — of people themselves — has changed in West Virginia, through comparing old photos and contemporary ones and contemplating the diseases West Virginians used to die from and what they grow sick from these days.
But the slideshow, like the series itself, is not just a depressing litany of doom, gloom and despair. Kate’s series has done an estimable job of showcasing people, institutions and programs at the forefront of turning the corner on unhealthy life choices and finding the way to wholesome ones. It’s full of what Kate has dubbed “hometown heroes,” people down the street or in the next town over who’ve taken charge of their health and, in so doing, their lives. I recommend the series to anyone in or out of the state. These are not just Appalachian issues.
PS - The soundtrack is an excerpt from a recording of a jam one night last winter at The Room Upstairs in Princeton, W.Va., featuring a roving, ever-transmogriphying band of musical mates, who — when we produce some listenable improv — are dubbed The Silent Gondoliers.