Introducing the Rising Appalachia Travel Blog


Dearly beloveds… Years ago when I left the US at a ripe and wide-eyed age of 19 I opened my first email account ( I age myself, don’t I!). There I spent the bulk of 5 years writing ornate emails about the world I was encountering…sending descriptive details of sounds and tastes and experiences that I was beholding as I traversed a cross Latin America, deep into the heart of Hawaii, across India and beyond…becoming the worldly adult that I so much wanted to be.  I used these years as a way to educate myself, knowing that I would need to be  diligent and cultivated for that to be a success.I stepped into educational projects with the Zapatista Movement, taught English to youth in the zocola plaza, learned how to sail across the Caribbean, ground corn for traditional tortillas, studied yoga and meditation at the feet of the masters, worked with refugee communities, built urban gardens,  took salsa lessons, and sang the melodies of all the songs that I could find…

I traveled and traveled and traveled, each step becoming more firm-footed in who I was, learning how to fend for myself, how to understand language as a communication much deeper than words, and how to live and cook and shelter myself on my own. I deepened my understanding of the strengths and great weaknesses of the country that I came from, and the likewise complex systems that exist the world, understanding that there is no perfect system. I cultivated my love of Hafiz, and Tom Robbins, and Clarrisa Pinkola Estes, reading with a insatiable desire. I designed my tattoos to tell stories of strength and hardship, and joy and loss and to be reminders to me of who I had become and who I wanted to be.

I become an avid writer. Putting away the canvas and paints and dance studios and instruments that had been my tools of creation for so much of my youth. I transformed my art into one that molded words into stories and inspiration into the written word. I wrote and wrote and wrote…sending home tails to my family and extended community, drafting my own self-created dissertations of the world around me. I wanted to make the whole things even more palatable than just living the experiences alone. I wanted to transcribe them into leagues that could be palatable for the people who I loved best. I wanted the tales to live on…

I grew.

So now, in the 8 years that my life has become the life of Rising Appalachia my tales have shifted. My travels have changed, and morphed, and sped up, and grown partners, and story lines, and a fan base. My tongue has moved from written to vocal, and my dialog with the ways of the world has moved into melody.

I have wanted so much to re-cultivate that living space for travel writing…for pieces of our deep and powerful journey to be available for our beloveds to come along with us. To have a place to share the many mighty tales and tribulations that meet us at every gate.

And so, after many lengthy journal entries, train trips and rental cars…after many long overdue song lyrics…I present you with the Rising Appalachia blog. Here it is my hope that I, and the powerful community that is Rising Appalachia, can have a space to transcribe what we see and touch and experience every day as our journeys deepen and ground.

It has been an unreal mission of song and music and art alongside A LOT of hard work, and we are each touched in so many different ways by the work that we have been so honored to take part in.

Here I hope we can make room for some of this written word to reach out and touch all of the people that we wish to have alongside us…and many that we may not ever even know…

Thank you for being a part of this ride.

Jan 2014:

Leah Song

Leah SongDee Nalam