Over the last 50-60 years, small towns all across the nation have been hollowed out.

Their main streets are largely boarded up and bypassed by the bypasses. Once flourishing farm and craft economies have disappeared, replaced by large mechanized farms, globalization of manufacturing, and particularly in places like rural Appalachia, they have been under siege by the extractive industries. These industries may bring economic benefits, but for whom? If they do bring jobs, they are seldom for the people who live in these towns, and they have other impacts.

As more and more people abandon these small towns, what is left behind is often economic decline, addiction and despair.

But that is not the whole picture.

But that is not the whole picture. People still live there and some (like Lesa Moore Kirkley pictured above) return to tend to their memories and the graves of their kin. They are all well worth talking to.

By telling the stories of the folks who grew up in and around Auburn, West Virginia and those who still live there, I’m telling a larger story about what is happening to this country, both in terms of what has been lost, but also about the pockets of resistance and resilience that remain.

“What About Auburn?” will premiere at the historic Smoot Theatre in Parkersburg WV May 10 at 7 pm. Tickets are available here.

I just really want our legislators to pay attention to us because what we have is a crisis in representation.

Lissa Lucas

- Lissa Lucas

Auburn is a microcosm…of the small towns that have been the backbone of America and of the republic.

Rodney Windom

- Rodney Windom

This community was about helping each other. They took pride in their homes, their land…

Lesa Moore Kirkley

- Lesa Moore Kirkley