By this letter we are inviting your continued support for the many ways that, even in the midst of this global pandemic, we at the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition are continuing to address the needs and concerns of greater Cincinnati’s urban Appalachian community.
UACC has continued its commitment to community research which, time and again, has strengthened initiatives for social justice advocacy. Over the past six months, analysis of health data on diagnosed COVID 19 cases by neighborhood and the limited availability of testing in the city’s neighborhoods, clearly underlined the need for action. Based on these findings, advocacy efforts were initiated with the health department and city leaders. The result was that accessible testing sites were set up in near west-side neighborhoods and other underserved areas. Further, the UACC Research Committee has joined forces with the regional Appalachian Translational Research Network to begin to survey rural and urban Appalachians about their experiences with the pandemic.
A third research project, made possible by collaboration with a University of Cincinnati intern and accomplished despite the need for social distancing, was the completion of the first of a number of planned interview-based research endeavors to gain a more in-depth understanding of the greater Cincinnati communities where urban Appalachians reside. This first study was done in Elmwood Place and the findings are being shared with village leadership and Hamilton County planners.
Networking is key to accomplishing UACC’s mission, and as we have had to significantly reduce our direct, face to face community engagement activities and cultural celebrations, like so many other organizations, the realities of ‘social distancing’ and ‘sheltering in place’ are pushing us to increase our online capabilities. Luckily, we have highly skilled volunteer and staff leadership who help lead the way in this regard. Facebook posts and the weekly UACC Newsletter via email serve as the backbones of our online networking.
The UACC website was refreshed this year and we are proud to have launched our online Cultural Resources Directory for artists and services of all stripes with a decided Appalachian flavor. To date, we have given presentations, webinars, and have our organizational meetings with Zoom. Recently, a special Virtual Cultural event on December 3rd, "Don’t Cry for Us, J.D. Vance: A Virtual Reading by Ohio Appalachian Authors” had over 900 who signed on and participated. The recorded event is available at our website: www.uacvoice.org.
The Frank Foster Library on Urban Appalachians is being reorganized at Community Matters in Lower Price Hill and the digital catalog is almost completed. We think the library will be a great resource for students, faculty, and the community. Local historians agree.
Please know that any support you are able to give is a blessing. The material and hands-on support provided by donors, volunteers, and community partners have served to help accomplish these activities and will continue to make possible those yet-to-be-imagined actions called for in response to our urban Appalachian community’s needs and creative ideas.
Wishing you a most happy, safe, and healthy holiday season!
Maureen R. Sullivan Michael E. Maloney Debbie Zorn