Franklin County’s thriving identities form its backbone. With a central corridor of towns in the valley and sloping rural areas traveling towards the mountain ranges on either side, the region’s identities represent Pennsylvania’s often overlooked region between the major cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Identity is personal, wildly imaginative, and impossible to detach from self. Within the vulnerability of each person, a core lives. This core consists of emotions, heritage, and ambition. Nuanced and capable of intense expression, these identities seek to connect and intrigue.
This spring, 11/30 Youth Collaborative set out into the community, looking for these identities, their subtleties, and their stories.
People have stories. They’re full of anecdotes and epics, highs and lows, happiness and sadness. In small communities, people and their stories speak the voice of the region. This voice carries through the small streets and the big valleys, speaking out into the world about itself.
In Chambersburg and the greater Cumberland Valley region, the stories we hear tell about justice (its presence or absence); they tell us about pain and healing, the search for hope; they speak about yearning and optimism; and they show us vulnerability. In this collection, we wanted to hear directly from the community voices, to write about and highlight their stories, and to share them authentically.
When many people think of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, they envision parades and festivals in major metropolitan areas with thousands of community members and allies clad in rainbow attire dancing and celebrating in the streets. However, in small, rural communities with less extravagant events, the LGBTQ+ community is still present and proud. In this collection, we explore what Pride looks and feels like for those who live in Franklin County, with a particular focus on the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in our community. In both of these instances, we emphasize the importance of allyship in rural spaces. We also expand our lens to Appalachia as a whole, considering the perspectives of LGBTQ+ people across the region.
We encourage you to get to know each of our contributors through their works, deeply consider their messages, and continuously reflect on your own position in the Chambersburg community. Most of all, we encourage you to act. To learn more about how to get involved with local efforts to fight for and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, please consider Pride Franklin County.
In the summer of 2020, national media recognized a few things we have known all along about Franklin County: the population is not entirely white, racism exists here, and grassroots organizations are beginning to mobilize our citizens to fight for racial justice. While the county’s rural agricultural roots and location in the Appalachian Mountains has led many to believe the area is a white, Republican, Christian monolith, we present a different perspective. In our high school classes, on our sports teams, in our clubs, and even within our own families we know people whose lives defy the stereotypes others perpetuate about rural communities. In this first collection from the 11/30 Youth Collaborative, we present stories written by a few of those people who stand out in our minds. We aim to showcase the diverse range of narratives that exist in Chambersburg, focusing specifically on racial diversity and the local fight for racial justice. We encourage you to get to know each of our contributors through their works, deeply consider their messages, and continuously reflect on your own position in the Chambersburg community. Most of all, we encourage you to act. To learn more about how to get involved with the local fight for racial justice, please consider Racial Reconciliation Franklin County, PA.