(Or, Appalachia Is Not Post-Industrial)
The Appalachian economy is driven by the highly-pollutive fossil fuel industry, which began nearly two and a half decades ago. Extraction diminishes air and water quality, landscapes are scarred, while communities suffer at the mercy of a boom-and-bust cycle, trending toward the bust.
Path Dependency refers to a sort of historical inertia resulting from a resistance to change. Historical choices limit our options today. Contemporary decisions limit what will be available in the future. If we want to see change in the future, we have to act today.
We're hanging on to an economy driven by extraction, even as we are developing better methods of meeting our needs. But we drag our heels because existing structures and institutions constrain the ways we live - economically, politically, culturally, ecologically.
Path Dependency is a visual document that chronicles the legacy our ancestors left for us and - if we continue to stall - what we will be forced to leave those who come after us.