Appalachian Transition Fellowship 2018-2019 Orientation and Tour

Appalachian Transition Fellowship 2018-2019 Orientation and Tour

By Kandi Workman

I spent a lot of time bouncing in and out of observation and reflection modes during this time, wondering how I play a part in change, how I recognize my own power (or lack thereof), and, most importantly, how I support others with their struggles by learning how to empower them. I pondered on what I can learn from all of the wonderful young people I'm partnered with over this year (which, I must say, has been and will be plush and plenty); their acceptance of me; and the merging of cultures and communities, experiences and wisdom.

Wisdom is present at all ages, if we choose to embrace it in all its forms. I think the same can be said about all the communities we toured. There’s wisdom in them mountains, my love. Collective. Cathartic. Courageous.

Wisdom Tradition is a synonym for Perennialism, the idea that there is a perennial or mystic inner core to all religious or spiritual traditions, without the trappings, doctrinal literalism, sectarianism, and power structures that are associated with institutionalized religion.

Appalachian spoken word artist Kirk Judd performs a poem called “The High Country Remembers Her Heritage.” In it, Judd says,

            My people was music

            They throw’d down roots

            And growed up families

            And stayed

They stayed.

They stayed during a time of self-sufficiency. They stayed during a time before industry. They stayed, forged new ways, forged new traditions. They stayed. We are not in an entirely dissimilar situation today. If we are to stay, we have to Adapt. Transition. Change.

The place I grew up loving and being loved in is hurting. But it isn’t just my place. It isn’t just my people.

I was so moved by each and every one of my fellow partners while on this tour. The immersion into this kind of work is what my soul has desired, yet my path was a little longer than others.

To evoke change, to witness change within myself and others, to spend my time with compassionate people, to learn about people power, to love more and deeper than ever before, these are the things of which I will measure the rest of my time on Earth.