|A TikTok video posted Thursday|
honors Appalachian women in music.
Pop culture is rife with Appalachian stereotypes, and too many people don't seem to understand what Appalachia is really like. Melody West and Shane Simmons decided to do something about it. They launched a multi-platform social-media project called Real Appalachia, meant to introduce people all over the world to towns in the region, Shannon Smith reports for WBIR-TV in Knoxville.
It started six or seven years ago as The Appalachian Project, a Facebook page where Simmons documented the history of Appalachian towns. That page is still active, with more than 67,000 followers, but the project really started getting popular after Simmons launched a companion YouTube channel in 2020, Smith reports. They recently expanded to TikTok and now have almost 150,000 social media followers and subscribers who tune in for videos with town tours, interviews, stories, and interesting tidbits of history.
"We have viewers from all over the world," West told Smith. "And they don't know anything, really, but stereotypes. So we're showing real Appalachia and there's just interest in that, of the beauty and the history here that has just escaped so many people. And there's so many old towns that we go into that a few years later, the buildings are gone. And we want to document things as they are and how people remember them."