Visit Appalachia LLC- Harlan, KY

Dates: March 21st – March 29th  

Cost: $425

Group Size: 2 leaders, 8 participants 

Host Community: 

Located in the Appalachian Mountains, Harlan, Kentucky is a welcoming community filled with hiking, old-time music, mountain views, with a population of 1,745 people. There is a fascinating history of coal mining and mountaintop removal, as well as environmentally-focused community members who love their mountains. Community member Dave Cooper will host the group in a Catholic church within the community, educating students on the breadth of Appalachian culture. 

Justice Issues: 

Visit Appalachia focuses on the justice issues of coal mining, mountaintop removal, strikes/protests, and rural poverty. The population and average income of Harlan families has fluctuated as the success of the coal mining has shifted over the decades. From the 1930s-1980s, more people lived in Harlan as the need for coal miners rose during the commodification of the United States economy and the rise in energy usage. As the coal as run out and other ways of attaining natural resources, such as mountain top removal, have become more popular, the community of Harlan has reduced and are facing issues around income equity and awareness of the history of their community.   

Cultural Opportunities: 

The culture of Appalachia and Harlan is rich, with roots in bluegrass music, social justice advocacy, and incomparable hikes and views. While on this trip, you will be able to immerse yourself into the history of coal-mining and how it impacted the everyday living of these mountain communities. There is also a connection to the history of the Native Americans who first lived in Appalachia and what coal mining and the earth means to them. There have been a plentitude of songs and documentaries on life in Harlan, which you will be able to experience while you are there.  

Food, Lodging, Travel: 

The group will travel by 12-passenger van from St. Paul to Harlan, KY and stay in a historic and renovated school. The long drive will result in the team staying at a church or community center along the way, organized by the two student leaders. Food will be provided by the site and the VISION program.