A Frustrated High School Teacher and Disinterested Students Created a Legacy

A frustrated high school teacher and disinterested students created a legacy. He asked them what would make his English class interesting. They decided to create a magazine. They planned to gather stories from their families and neighbors. They’d improve their writing skills by writing articles about what they learned. They called the magazine Foxfire. Foxfire is the name of the glowing fungus on rotted wood in their area.

Foxfire has been in continuous production since 1967. Students at Rabun County High School produce two double-issues each school year. They record oral histories and traditions, both past and current, of southern Appalachia.

The Books

The Foxfire Book was the first anthology. It compiled articles from the magazine focused on the trades, crafts, and livelihoods of the Appalachian pioneers. There are now twelve books in the anthology. Plus they have Christmas, music, cookery, and winemaking books. There are also books by local authors. Find all those books here.

Museum Shop

They have merchandise like T-shirts, coffee mugs, and tote bags in their museum shop. “Students invested royalties from The Foxfire Book to establish this extraordinary facility as a living legacy of the people whose lives and stories they chronicle and cherish.”

The Museum and Heritage Center

If you’re ever near Mountain City, Georgia visit their Museum and Heritage Center. The center showcases many handcrafted artifacts. The students have relocated ten authentic pioneer cabins plus a dozen other structures to the site.

A Teaching Method

“The Foxfire approach to teaching and learning is neither a method nor a prescription. The approach marries teacher guidance with student choice as a foundation for better learning. In this way, the first Foxfire classrooms were less about the magazine than they were about choosing to produce one.” Read more about how to apply the Firefox approach when teaching here.

They also teach heritage skills, have workshops for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts that fulfill badge requirements, lead educational tours of the center, and offer student internships. It’s an amazing program that supports student choice and agency.

My Inspiration

I purchased a Foxfire book many years ago. Inside are stories and articles. I learned about people, preparing hog brains, building cabins, and much more. Between the lines, I found the histories of some of my family members. And from a mish-mash of those stories and memories of various family members and acquaintances, a character emerged. Gert appears in both My Soul to Keep and (briefly in) my new book, Fellowship (formerly Ian’s Trust). I’ve been told that Gert is three-dimensional. I hope so. I hope I’ve honored the folks these students have spent so much time and energy to document the legacy of the peoples of Appalachia. And it all happened because of a frustrated teacher and disinterested students.

Prevent Sexual Assault with I Ask

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) has a mission to provide leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence. They do so through collaborating, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research This is the eighteenth Sexual Assault and Awareness Month led by the NSVRC and this year’s theme is I Ask.

I Ask for Consent

The theme I Ask promotes education and understanding of what consent is. This education is intended for men and women.

Consent is when someone gives permission for something to happen or to do something. It is only consent if the person granting consent knows exactly what they are agreeing to. And agreeing to kiss is not granting consent for making out or sexual intercourse. Consent needs to be specific. In other words, if you ask “do you want to mess around,” that isn’t specific. Do you want to kiss is specific but only grants consent for a kiss.

And granted or denied, consent is a one-time thing. Giving consent once does not imply consent for any other time. 

Who Can Give Consent

This is one area where the NSVRC handout falls short.

Only competent adults (over the legal age—whatever it is in your country) can give consent.

Children can never give consent—even if they look or act like an adult.

Persons who are unconscious or drunk cannot give consent.

If a person is not mentally or physically capable of giving consent, they cannot legally grant consent even if they answer yes. 

Unclear Consent

If someone says no, there is no consent. If someone sounds uncertain, there is no clear consent. A smile, a nod, a shrug all are unclear. Ask for a verbal consent.

Before accepting your partner’s consent. Check in with your partner. Ask them what they think they are consenting to. Or tell your partner, You sound uncertain. Let’s (watch a movie, go for coffee, etc.) instead.

Learn More

The NSVRC has a handout on consent. In fact, I used some of the information on it for this post. You can print it off from this page.

There are tons of other resources available on the website. Check it out.

Why I Care

This is the first year I’ve made Sexual Assault Awareness a focus of my April posts. In the past, it was too painful, too frightening, too uncertain. Well, it’s still painful, frightening, and uncertain.  

Like Miranda in my novel, My Soul to Keep, I believe I was sexually assaulted at a very young age by a trusted family member. I have no actual memory of the event(s) but I have nightmares. And I have unexplained, emotional reactions to certain triggers. See previous posts, Through the Haze and Help Me Help Prevent Sexual Assault for a little more information.

I will never be certain of any recovered memories. I will never feel safe discussing sexual assault. Not the ones I’ve always remember. Not the ones I believe happened but have no solid memory of. Not even sexual assaults on other persons. 

No matter what happened—or didn’t happen to me—no sexual assault on any level is ever acceptable. But sexual assault is nearly epidemic. And it doesn’t happen only in America.

Why Educate About Consent

No one ever spoke to me about consent. I don’t believe anyone ever spoke to my parents about consent, nor to their parents. Would it have changed my life? Maybe not, unless the men involved were educated, too.

Some people say everyone knows what consent is. They don’t. Sexual assaults happen EVERY. DAY. It happens to women, men, children, disabled, and seniors. See some of the statistics in last week’s post, Speak Out—April is SAAPM.

Sexual assault and abuse are preventable. We human beings, across the globe, need to be better at understanding what is and isn’t consent. We need to be better about respecting consent. We need to be better. 

I Ask. Do you?

Speak Out-April is SAAPM

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

I speak out because I believe that every survivor deserves a safe place to find help. Speak out with me this Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Visit: rainn.org/SAAPM #SAAPM

The Statistics

Graphic states Every 92 Seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Speak Out so other know there's a safe resource.
Graphic states 8 out of 10  rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. 19.5% are by a stranger. 39% are by an acquaintance 33% are by current or former spouse or boyfriend or girl friend 6% are committed by more than one person or the victim can't remember 2.5 % are committed by a non-spouse relative. Speak out about the resources to fight sexual assault
Graphic states Male College Students 5 times more likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.Speak out about the resources to fight rape and sexual assault.
18-34 year old college women were at more risk than other women to be assaulted. Women of the same age and not in college were 4 times as likely to end up raped or assaulted.Speak out about the resources to fight sexual assault.
Graphic states every 9 minutes a child is sexually assaulted. Speak out about the resources to fight child sexual assault.

The statistics are terrifying. Every ninety-two seconds someone is sexually assaulted. That means that by the time you finish reading this short post, someone has been assaulted. Maybe someone you know. 

Make a Call

If you’ve been assaulted, or you know someone who has been, it can be overwhelming. You don’t know what to do or where to turn. 

Reach out. 

Whether you’re need support, information, advice, or a referral, RAINN’s trained support specialists are ready to help.

Call 800-656-HOPE (4653). There is no charge.

Or if you prefer, there is a CHAT feature available on the RAINN website.

How You Can Help

  • Post a photo on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook of a blue triangle on your hand on Thursday, April 4 to show your support of RAINN Day. A blue triangle represents a megaphone to remind us to use our voices to spread awareness about sexual violence.
  • Change your Facebook profile photo to include RAINN SAAPM frame. Available on Facebook on April 1. Search RAINN SAAPM 2019 to find it.
  • Tell one person in your life about RAINN and SAAPM.
  • What to share? This week, encourage others to speak out by sharing our custom-made posts below on social media:

Want more information about RAINN before you volunteer or donate? Read my post Help Me Help Prevent Sexual Assault.

Why I Speak Out

Although I’ve written briefly about my sexual assault in other posts, I’d rather stay quiet about my suspicions that I was a victim of sexual assault. I was very young, my memory is not clear…I could be wrong…but I don’t think so.

I know that talking to someone about sexual assault can be scary. But it is healing. Even when you doubt your memory. It took time. It took talking to therapists but I did it. And so can you.

There is no one way to heal from sexual assault. Your path will be different from mine. Know that there are resources out there. You can get help. It probably isn’t going to be easy. But you need to know that healing is possible. That is why I must speak out.

You May Never Know

The images and much of the text of this post are courtesy of the RAINN website https://www.rainn.org and the copyright for the images and words belongs to them. But their message is mine. Their message is yours. Speak Out. Spread awareness. Tell one person about RAINN or about the Sexual Assault and Awareness hotline. You may never know how your words helped someone recover from a sexual assault.