Making Do

Nearly 100 years ago, Horace Kephart, in his classic study Our Southern Highlanders, called the mountain region “the Land of Do-Without.” He admiringly describing the resilience of mountain people coping with the poverty in more remote communities. In our time, this tradition of “Making Do” continues to be part of the popular image of the region, even as it undergoes rapid change. Making Do involves simple living and self-reliance. It values gardening, hunting, sewing, auto repair, and other hands-on skills. Frequently “making do” has reinforced a negative image of mountain backwardness. Increasing as Americans have become aware of the excesses of consumer society and the need to conserve and recycle to live green. “Making do” has served as a model for simple living and ingenuity celebrated in the popular Foxfire books.

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