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Where We’re From Guides Where We’ll Go

by Fred First

We may feel powerless to make a difference in the national issue of homeland security. But on the local level where we live our everyday lives, security at home and the peace that comes from it consists of a roof over our heads, a land that is bountiful and beautiful, and our ability to harvest from that land enough to stay fed and healthy. In the end, our security comes from our relationships—with family, with community and witth the substance of places where we live—the soil, air, water, and forests of these old mountains.

One of the essay and poster contest prompts for the Land’s Sake: Floyd’s Journey Ahead event at Floyd High School on April 21 will ask county students to think about those relationships, and craft them in the form of a poem-essay based on an original poem called “Where I’m From” by Kentucky poet, George Ella Lyon.

“If you don’t know where you’re from, you’ll have a hard time saying where you’re going.” Wendell Berry, among others, has voiced this idea that we need to understand our roots to know and appreciate our place in this world and to forge our path ahead. George Ella’s poem template is an excellent way to contemplate, appreciate and share those relationships that are both unique to each of us and held in common among those of us who are part of a common economy and ecology.

This can be a good, grounding exercise and creative expression for a young person. So parents and grandparents, why don’t you go first? Print out the poem-with-blanks; and by all means, read some examples at links below, and begin.  I can pretty much tell you with certainty, if you make the effort, you’ll be glad you did. (Details for the free Land’s Sake event and contest guidelines for Floyd County students can be found at  Please join us!)

It would be a wonderful expression of where we are from, together as Southwest Virginians, to compile a hundred or more of these into a booklet we could all be proud of—a home-grown, homeland security guidebook.&nnbsp;

George Ella Lyon explains WIF

WIF Study Guide

Fred First WIF

WHERE I’M FROM Poem-Essay Template

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______. I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail) I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one). From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another). I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family). From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail), and the _______ (another detail about another family member). I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

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