Thomas More University’s Urban Appalachian Leadership Project (UALP) students will celebrate the spirit of “home” cultures in open-mic style during Express Appalachia Homecoming. This event, which brings people from all ages and cultural backgrounds together to share and reflect on unique identities and heritage, will take place Sunday, March 24, from 6:30 – 8:15 p.m. in Steigerwald Hall on Thomas More’s campus.
Express Appalachia Homecoming is sponsored by a grant from the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition and reflects a one-of-a-kind experience that includes culturally-inspired literature, music, dance, and cuisine. Along with UALP student artists, the evening will include regionally awarded TMU artists-in-residence Pauletta Hansel and Dick Hague as well as traditional Appalachian family folk bands Tellico and Bear Foot. Guest artists will offer short, intense performances inspired by the area’s rich urban Appalachian heritage. Attendees will then be invited to the stage to share poetry, short reflections, prose, skits, and music as a creative interpretation of diverse heritages.
Key organizers of Express Appalachia Homecoming are Sherry Stanforth, Ph.D., professor and Creative Writing Vision program director at Thomas More University, and students Michael Thompson, Brook Batch, Jeni Hall, and Erin Carrus.
Express Appalachia Homecoming conveys a commitment for educating people about urban Appalachian culture in our area and a strong value for inspiring relationships among educational institutions and cultural organizations in the northern Kentucky and Cincinnati areas. TMU students are forming dynamic partnerships with multiple nonprofits, linking the University’s mission to wider community missions.
“This program series is designed to foster ongoing, long-term relationships among Appalachian people (especially youth) in our local community,” said Stanforth.“These events promote an apprenticeship design, too, where creative youth may engage with local artists and leaders around culturally-inspired themes and expressive forms. In the most ideal form, Express Appalachia is a wide-open mic that brings diverse audiences together in ways that inspire, educate, and promote empathy around group ‘home’ identities, values, and experiences.”
Stanforth and TMU students are also taking the Express Appalachia mission into schools in order to share a dynamic experience featuring Appalachian and urban Appalachian concepts. These short literary, dramatic, and musical performances function to promote basic awareness for the local Appalachian heritage and to also encourage learners to form connections with their own home and cultural perspectives.
The Express Appalachia Homecoming event is free and open to the public.
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