Situated in Jackson County, North Carolina, the mission of the nonprofit organization Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA) is “Planting seeds of heritage through the arts.” Its main thrust is to draw attention to the need to conserve, protect and save the natural and human heritage of the local mountain people in the region.
To accomplish its goals, CSA works by involving the community in honoring and preserving the local heritage lifestyle and “sense of place” through organizing and producing festivals such as:
• “ColorFest” to showcase and support the local artisans;
• by producing a weekly oral history radio/online program “Stories of Mountain Folk” (www.storiesofmountainfolk.com);
• by publishing local writers, celebrating their works in a public review each year and providing an online shopping cart for its authors (csabooks.com);
• by hosting a scholarship dinner to raise funds for four Appalachian Studies scholarships for graduating seniors;
• and by assisting to produce and fund “Heritage Alive! Mountain Youth Talent Contests” in three counties through the Jackson County 4-H, providing an opportunity for youth to participate in storytelling, old-time mountain and bluegrass music, and dance traditions.
At its yearly planning meeting on Jan.19, the CSA board of directors elected a new slate of officers, and planned its activities for 2013. The outgoing president, Norma Clayton, presented the nominations for the offices, and the slate was passed unanimously. Betty Brown from Tuckasegee was elected president, Nicole Jarosinski from Sylva was elected secretary, and Etheree Chancellor from Cullowhee was elected as hospitality chairwoman.
The incoming president, Betty Brown, was secretary to the superintendent of Jackson County Schools for more than 12 years and recently retired. She was born and raised in a large family in the Appalachian coal mining town of Pound, Va., and has been married for more than 47 years to Conard Brown from Tuckasegee, N.C. They live on a small farm, have one son and two grandchildren, who also live in Tuckasegee. Brown writes and records songs of inspiration, ballads about life in Appalachia and reflections about life as she lives it day to day.
“My goal is to pass on the traditions the love of family, the benefits of working together and simple joys of life in the Appalachian Mountains,” said Brown.
Nicole Jarosinski, who lives in Sylva, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Western Carolina University, which includes a Master of Arts in English rhetoric and composition. While in college, she was a graduate teaching assistant for more than two years. She has worked as a volunteer writer for CSA in publishing a 190th anniversary book for Cullowhee Baptist Church. Jarosinski gathered historical data and interviewed church members, transcribed and contributed 60 pages in a book of 168 pages. Currently, Jarosinski works for the office of attorney Michele D. Smith.
Cullowhee’s Etheree Chancellor—photographer, hiker, heritage crafter, and avid cook—was reared on a farm, learning the heritage crafts from her mother and grandmother. Because of their influence, Chancellor developed not only a love for needlecrafts, but also plant and flower lore, and all things traditional. She has three children and six grandchildren. In 2008, Chancellor became a published writer when she and a friend, Jean Sutton Mincey, published “Seizing the Moment,” a book of wildflower photography with cross-stitch designs. A CSA board member since 2004, she has organized many of the food receptions at its functions. Chancellor also works for the law office of Michele D. Smith.
For more information, call (828)631-4587, or go to www.spiritofappalachia.org.