Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back To School: Some Thoughts About the Unique Location of the Appalachian School of Law

Unique Location of the Appalachian School of law

Classes for our incoming 1L students start this coming Friday.  I plan to use this week to remind faculty, students, alumni,and incoming students about what makes the Appalachian School of Law so special.

Yes, this is a shameless plug.  But, in a southeastern market where students can choose between being a name at a mission-driven school and being a number at a for-profit school, I want to remind us all why ASL stands out.

Unique Location:
  • Located in the Central Appalachian Mountains of Virginia;
  • Quiet small town of Grundy is enhanced by recent addition of new stores and restaurants;
  • During 2013, work will begin on the River Walk Project that will create additional green spaces along the Levisa River that flows through town and northwest (that's right!) to Pikeville, KY;
  • Pikeville, Ky, in turn, played an important role in the famous Hatfield and McCoys feud;
  • Unique local history is tied to coal production and the westward migration through the Cumberland Gap;
  • Near the Grand Canyon of the South at the Breaks Interstate Park;
  • Many outdoor recreational opportunities, including the Appalachian Trail near Birke's Garden (known as God's Thumprint); 
  • On the Crooked Music Road;
  • An hour from Ralph Stanley's home place and museum, site of an annual bluegrass music festival; 
  • Across the state border form two of the best preserved coal company towns, Benham and Lynch, Kentucky, the site of a new coal mining portal museum cut into the face of Black Mountain;
  • Traditional looking campus “is very beautiful”
  • Small campus engenders close-knit relationships among students and among students and professors.
For a wonderful account of Grundy written by Cheryl Isaac, a Liberian refugee who moved here a few years ago, see here.  She describes in detail her love of the community.  She says:  "I just knew the town's generous mountains, flowing creeks, warm skies, light mist, and spunky birds would help me complete the first draft of my book about a formerly peaceful Liberian childhood assaulted by war and trauma."

She continues:  "I felt God in its mountains and creeks . . . . [I]n order to truly see Grundy, you must have the kind of vision that surpasses its narrow roads . . . in order to see the gift that its nature conceals, a gift so rare that once the veil is lifted from your eyes, you see the town for what it really is: a treasure valley."

She concludes: "I am fully aware this Southern town has transformed me, an unexplainable joy crawls from my belly, sweeps across my face, and becomes one with the creek, slowly treading its way through Edgewater Drive, through Grundy, through Buchanan County, through Virginia, and onwards, ready and willing to connect with a destiny that is bigger, more expansive, and even more challenging."

Our location also supports our new Natural Resource Law program, which is described here and here.

Recently, the Appalachian Regional Commission published a map showing  the "County Economic Status in Appalachia, FY 2014."

Most of the counties served by ASL's graduates fall in the "distressed" or "at-risk" categories.  This economic data ties to our mission, which I will discuss tomorrow. 


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