The Monkey Do Project

MonkeyDoProjectFaceUSPovertyShockFreeQuotesStatsEach Wednesday, I spend time sifting through various social media streams so that I can find interesting people and projects who may not appear in the news.

Yesterday, I came across The Monkey Do Project, which seeks to partner with groups working in Appalachia.

As I read about the project, I was reminded of what I used to tell my colleagues and friends on the East and West Coasts: If you travel through Appalachia, you will experience life that you only expect to see in the Third World.

This doesn’t mean the entire region is a depressed wasteland. However, there are large swaths that have been cut off from the highway system, the national economy, and the technological revolution, and this has created a profound Third World-ness to the region.

The area needs more than just public-private partnerships; it also needs boots on the ground. Hence the Monkey Do Project:

The Monkey Do Project is a registered non-profit that focuses on the most distressed areas of the Appalachia. The government defines those areas as the poorest regions in our entire country.

We work as an outreach to partner up with groups, churches, organizations and other non-profits to provide for different needs–physical, emotional and spiritual–of people in those areas.

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2 comments

  • Jenny June 6, 2013   Reply →

    My grandmother lives in conditions many of us would call “third world” in Adams County, Ohio. My parents try to help her; they’ve offered to buy her a house, move her closer to them or pay for fixes. She refuses. I would say a certain amount of it is pride, but I also think she is just so used to her way of life that she sees no reason to change. If I forget about her medical issues, I do truly believe she is content.

    She was born in a one-room cabin with no running water or electricity in Swiss Colony, KY. Now, she lives just barely above that standard. But this time it’s by choice. She lived for the entire middle part of her life in and around Cincinnati but she prefers to live in the foothills away from everyone and everything.

    Part of me wants to pull her out of it because I know she is far away from help and also because she would have access to better food, doctors and family here. We check on her as much as we can. But I know that if we forced her to live like we all believe she should, it would kill some part of her spirit.

    I guess my point is that yes, much of the region is dirt-poor and disadvantaged. But I believe this is compounded by attitude and tradition. Whether that’s a result of ignorance, pride or true preference, I can’t say. I do think any solution to problems in the region must be respectful of the culture and not just throw resources or money at them.

    • Brad_King June 6, 2013   Reply →

      When i was down in Clay County doing research, I had the chance to speak with several folks who’d lived in Manchester their entire lives. Clay County is one of the 10 poorest counties in the country, and the residents understood the future was not bright for them.

      And yet the idea of someone giving them help was the antithesis of everything they stood for (http://sofarappalachia.com/2013/05/10/the-idea-of-someone-else-doing-for-you-will-destroy-you-from-the-inside/).

      One unspoken reason (and one of the 4 themes in my book): Central governments have long promised help, e.g. transportation, infrastructure, meant to fix the areas, only to remove that help (many times mid-help). The removal of that help actually accelerated the problem, which has in many instances led to the well-reasoned position that governments can’t be trusted to fix these problems.

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