Author: Bailey Reutzel

Georgia

The Confederate Flag is no longer a part of the Georgia Flag. And the decision to remove the symbol had nothing to do with heritage or history or political correctness or sensitivity. It had everything to do with economics. During the run-up to the Olympic Games in Atlanta during the 90s, Georgia’s flag came under scrutiny by both the NAACP and local business owners for it’s use of a large Confederate flag. The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC), industry groups and politicians in the state conceded. “Whether it’s right or wrong, heritage or not…from an economic perspective it was hurting...

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South Carolina

Who understands war? Our forefathers might be the only ones, holding muskets in trembling fingers at a target only a few hundred yards away. Explosions, blood, panic. I can sense it as I walk through an interactive tunnel in the Naval and Maritime Museum at Patriot’s Point in Charleston, South Carolina. As I walk through stepping on squares, panels on the wall light up showing various black and white photos of tanks and fighter jets. It’s accompanied by the sounds; the sounds are the worst. Pop. Pop. Pop. Zoom. Yelling. Boom. Pop. Pop. A veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder...

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North Carolina

“Most struggles are money struggles. Maybe that isn’t the root but that’s where it comes out,” says my cousin, Aaron Schnurbusch, who works at a crisis ministry in Asheville, North Carolina. He’s speaking to the homeless and addicted in the area, but his take seems oddly appropriate during this year’s presidential election. Supporters of Donald Trump (and the rest of the Republican candidates) are tired of seeing their hard-earned income going to a government that’s, in their minds, ineffectual and meddlesome. Bernie Sanders supporters, and to a certain extent Hillary Clinton advocates, are tired of the increasing amount of personal debt because there are people not paying their fair share. The target audience is the same, every time, the middle class or at least those that think they’re the middle class. Politicians don’t speak to the man that’s been sleeping in the crisis clinic waiting room all morning or the woman that comes there daily with three kids for free meals. They speak to the affluent and employed, those that aren’t barely living who can aspire to buy a TV or a car through tax cuts or go to college with reduced tuition. On Thursday, when I volunteered at the crisis ministry hanging donated clothes and stacking blankets, it was sunny and warm. By Saturday morning, the snow storm I had driven through from West Virginia hit Asheville hard. I had...

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West Virginia

In Charleston, West Virginia’s capitol building casts its shadow on the state museum. It’s oddly fitting given the historical context. A similar shadow loomed over West Virginians during the Great Depression, when the state levied a penny tax to build the $10 million politician’s den, equipped with seven different types of marble, Italian alabaster and an impressive 4,000-ton chandelier. The rest was paid for with the insurance money from the past two capitol buildings which both burned to the ground. I could think of better uses for the pennies, especially since nowadays West Virginia congressional delegates only spend January through...

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Kentucky

When you ask people about the state they were born in or the state they live in, they usually tell you about the beautiful scenery, the off-center local dive bars or the eclectic music scene. They don’t tell you about the large corporations, the Walmarts, the global banks. Because those institutions are just bland, facades scattered among residents with interesting ideas. These institutions might provide jobs to the locals, but these employees have lives and passions outside their work. So why, in America, do we treat these institutions as if they were an integral part of our cultural identity?...

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Arkansas

I’m Googling cheap massages in a parking lot in Fayetteville, Arkansas, when I look up to find myself outside the co-op grocery store, Ozark Natural Food. What’s a co-op doing so close to Walmart’s turf of Bentonville? Spencer, a store associate at the co-op, wonders the same thing. “There’s definitely a Walmart culture here in Arkansas,” he says. “People don’t care where they get their food or how it’s made; they just walk into Walmart because they want the cheapest thing.” He’s chipper and more than happy to talk about the benefits of the co-op and his job there,...

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