Thursday, April 02, 2009

One last idea from Archie Green, via the Mt. Eagle: Pay writers, photographers to document our times

When he died last month, Archie Green, advocate for hard-working Americans, was trying to get Congress to create a modern version of the Federal Writers Project and other government programs that documented life during the Great Depression. The Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg, Ky., picked up the ball with an editorial this week.

"Times and techniques have changed, but Archie Green's vision is timeless and timely," the crusading weekly says. "One of the ways we got through the Depression was by learning that we’re all in this together. One of the ways we’ll get through the present mess is by rediscovering that truth and recording the evidence. To twist an ancient saying around, when someone plants a tree (on an old unreclaimed strip mine, let’s say) someone else should be there to record it: otherwise we’ll never hear the sound of solidarity or see the evidence of recovery." (Photo by John Vachon of cantaloupe cooperative planting in Indiana, 1940, for Farm Security Administration, via Indiana University)

The paper likens Green to the character of Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, anticipating his death and wishing for a mystic legacy: "It don't matter. I'll be all around in the dark — I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look — wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build — I'll be there, too."

The Eagle doesn't make articles available online to non-subscribers until two weeks after publication, but the editorial is posted here, on the site of the Instutute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

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