In the 1950's, Paul Hopkins' family left their home of generations, Greasy Creek, Ky., to find work up north in Akron, Ohio, during a wave of coal mine closings across Eastern Kentucky.
Paul’s family story is a stitch in the fabric of one of America’s largest internal migrations, a mid-20th century movement that saw three million people leave Appalachia between 1940 and 1970. Eastern Kentucky was acutely impacted in particular, losing nearly 35 percent of its population in the 1950s alone. The mass exodus, once known as the “Hillbilly Highway,” shaped and continues to shape part of the cultural identity of mountain residents.
Smoketown Family Wellness Center
Shot & Produced by Kertis Creative Role: Videographer, Editor Created as part of the Smoketown Family Wellness Center's Give Local Louisville campaign, which raised the center over $80,000 from over 250 donations in one day
The mission of the SFWC is to build a culture of health by providing clinical care to children in a community-based environment with a focus on healthy lifestyle behaviors for the entire family.
Boys & Girls Club Alumni
Shot & Produced by Kertis Creative Role: Videographer Created as part of the Ignite Louisville alumni engagement campaign for the Boys & Girls Club of Kentuckiana
a home to heal
DJ and Lyle Fuller began adopting in 2007. Little did they know over time they would open their home to seven children who grew up in harsh family environments and the inexhaustible foster system. As a child of adoption herself, DJ creates a home where her children feel safe to talk openly about their past issues of abuse and neglect. Through teaching her children Trauma Release Exercise, or TRE, a series of exercises to help the body deal with past or present stressors, both DJ and her family come closer to accepting their pasts as a part of who they are.
Drifting: Life on the River
Mary Ann McClain and Dean Marsh have lived on their houseboat ever since they decided to build a home that would allow them to travel and live independently. Mary Ann, who has struggled with homelessness throughout her life, had been on government assistance for 15 years before moving in with Dean. In 2008, shortly after the two met, Mary Ann and Dean decided to begin building a boat with what little resources they had to define their own lifestyle - not by their home but by where their home could take them.
This piece was produced for Ohio University's Water Project, a collaborative multimedia project covering environmental water issues within the Appalachian Ohio Valley.
Colleen Norris reflects on her experience coming out as a male-to-female transgender after serving eight years the United States Army.
"It was an exhilarating experience. I knew that what I was looking at was who I was supposed to be. . .And then I realized that I had to give up an awful lot to do it."
In Her Own Hands
Wind whistles through the trees and down the back country roads of the small village of Rutland, Ohio. A wigwam is tucked into the tall grass and wooded foothills of Appalachia, a region Sarah Fick has called home since she was born.
After five years of saving up enough money, Sarah was finally able to purchase a plot of land where she could build a space that reflected her ideals of self-reliance and environmentalism. “To me, I’m here and this is where I take my stand,” says Sarah. “This is where I try to do my best to be responsible to the land that I live on, to take as best care of it as I can and to protect it—to protect my living environment.” A critic of capitalism and the energy industry that utilizes the region’s resources, Sarah chooses to remove herself from the commodification of everyday life to prove that sustainable living and healthy, conscious interaction with the world around her is possible.
This piece was produced for Home: From The Ground Up , a collaborative multimedia project created through the 2015 Soul of Athens put on by the School of Visual Communication. View the full story here.
In 2012, Kev Polk’s life was flipped upside down. He and his wife Kimberly Wagner lost their foster children to a different placement and soon after, they chose to end their marriage. In the wake of major transitions, Kev chose to create a new home for himself.
Now, Kev Polk steps out of bed every morning into a space no larger than 98 square feet, built on wheels, and entirely off-grid. While the typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, Kev’s tiny home he built himself is anything but conventional. Living by himself simply and efficiently has brought Kev more freedom, comfort, and time to focus on his new direction in life: building tiny house communities to encourage more people to share in the lifestyle he chose and created for himself.
#BLM March in Louisville
On July 7, 2016 hundreds gathered outside of at the Carl Braden Memorial Center in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, two unarmed black men shot and killed by white police officers. The vigil transformed into a peaceful march that blocked off inbound West Broadway from 7:00 pm til 8:00 pm.
Campus Red Cross
Even if she didn’t know it, Chelsea Browne’s blood transfusions were vital to her survival after an aneurysm sent the Ohio University senior into open heart surgery. The surgery was successful, but not without complications that led to large amounts of blood being lost. It was during these complications that the Red Cross helped save Chelsea’s life.
This video was part of the 2013 Project C campaign to raise funds for a variety of non-profits in Athens County, Ohio.