Alabama: Perry County
Alabama: Perry County is a series about holding a healthy tension between a perspective of scarcity and one of joy and strength. What, in all realities, appears to be extreme poverty may actually represent generations of strong, resilient families who have made a true home in Perry County. This series in the “Resilient Rural America” project is part of the BNG Storytelling Projects Initiative. Has the United States forgotten its countryside? What strength and resilience may yet be stirring outside our city limits? In “Resilient Rural America,” we attempt to answer these questions when we visit these unique communities to examine the singular nature of poverty in rural America and tell the stories of development among its courageous and resilient people.
This series is written by Blake Tommey. Photos are by Lesley-Ann Hix Tommey.
In this series, we learn that there is a tension you must hold in Perry County, Alabama, between strength and fragility, beauty and dismay, resilience and defeat. The moment you discount its people and cry “poverty,” Perry County bewilders you with overwhelming abundance and gratitude. The moment you discover the outright richness of life there, you must contend with the exhaustive power of poverty to steal home, health and even your next meal.
On many days, the endless work of combatting rural poverty leaves you in the dark, utterly hopeless, Frances Ford says, but as Perry County’s own begin to build it themselves, hope flickers. True asset-based community development is sluggish work, and, at times, maybe impossible work.
We also experience the story of a resilient couple who finds home and hope in one of Alabama’s poorest communities.
Seed money to launch our Storytelling Projects initiative and our initial series of projects has been provided through generous grants from the Christ Is Our Salvation Foundation and the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation. For information about underwriting opportunities for Storytelling Projects, contact David Wilkinson, BNG’s executive director and publisher, at [email protected] or 336.865.2688.