Check out portraits of our interview subjects, landscapes from West Virginia, and shots of a one-of-a-kind food pantry from Episode Two of Shifting Climates.
Episode Two of Shifting Climates begins with an excerpt from Karenna Gore’s keynote address at the 2018 Rooted and Grounded conference at the Anabaptist Mennonite Seminary in Elkhart, IN.
A train carrying coal passes by on Coal Heritage Road in McDowell County, WV.
Keystone is a town in McDowell County, West Virginia. This downtown strip used to be bustling with people, but in the past fifty years the population has decreased significantly due, in large part, to the coal industry’s decline.
Many of the buildings in Keystone are abandoned. The lack of jobs in McDowell County has forced families to move elsewhere for employment.
A tattered billboard on the main street in Keystone, WV.
An old building on the edge of Keystone previously used for processing and moving coal.
Our view as we entered into the town of Keystone, WV. As Randy Green mentioned, there aren’t many stoplights in McDowell County anymore and the sidewalks haven’t been kept up. Much of this is due to out-migration; the population of McDowell has plummeted since the coal boom, and the people who’ve stayed behind have had to adapt.
As Randy Green talks about in Episode Two, railroads have been, and still are, crucial to McDowell’s economy. Train tracks were visible from almost every place we visited in McDowell, and train cars passed by frequently.
This coal processing plant is visible from Rt. 52 and sits about 1.5 miles from Five Loaves and Two Fishes. The coal industry in McDowell used to employ thousands of people but, with new technology and machinery, fewer people are needed to mine now than in the past. Jobs have become more specialized, and consequently higher paying, but they’ve also become less accessible. Lack of diversity in jobs, coupled with pressures from environmental groups to decrease coal use, results in fragile local economies.
This photo was taken from Coal Heritage Rd (Rt. 52). The conveyor belts moving in and out of these buildings carrying coal from the strip mining site on the mountainside above. In the lot below, coal is loaded onto train cars. Coal is still an integral part of McDowell’s economy. If a transition to clean energy is in our future, what will the residents of McDowell do for income?
Bob and Linda McKinney, the owners of the Five Loaves and Two Fishes food pantry in McDowell County, West Virginia.
Bob and Linda were a joy to photograph. They were warm, friendly, charismatic, and silly, and it was so fun to try to capture their relationship.
Bob and Linda McKinney make a wonderfully dynamic pair. Linda is boisterous and silly while Bob is a bit more reserved, but they share a kindheartedness and an attitude of service. We came away with so much admiration for them both, as individuals and as a couple.
Five Loaves and Two Fishes food bank in McDowell County, West Virginia.
The front entrance of Five Loaves and Two Fishes Food Bank.
Bob and Linda stand next to shopping carts full of food ready to distribute. Because the food bank serves so many people, the McKinneys have had to come up with ways of streamlining distribution; pre-packing shopping carts is just one solution they’ve found to this problem. Pre-packing carts allows them to serve more people, but it also assures that everyone gets an equal amount of goods and a variety of food groups.
Bob and Linda stand with carts of food ready for distribution.
A wooden cross stands on the front lawn of the food pantry.
Also on Five Loaves and Two Fishes property is a greenhouse that the McKinney’s son uses for his hydroponics and aquaponics projects.
Much of the soil in McDowell county is contaminated and/or stripped. New farming techniques such as aquaponics are particularly applicable to this area, given the plants are grown in nutrient-rich water rather than soil.
This inviting sign hangs outside of the food pantry’s entrance. The McKinneys told us that many families do come and sit on their porch on the days they’re giving out food. People bring games and snacks, turning the food distribution day into a community event.
The door into Five Loaves and Two Fishes displays some of the values held by the organization; from physical health, to patriotism, to family bonding, it’s clear that the McKinneys are striving to do more in their work than just feed those in need.
Inspirational messages found around the food pantry.
A sign hanging outside of the Five Loaves and Two Fishes’ food pantry. Its message is fitting for the organization; in their work, Bob and Linda McKinney set a strong example of love and care for one’s community, and it’s contagious.
Matthew Groves studied Physics in undergrad and is now getting his masters at the Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is passionate about the integration of faith and science. Check out his personal website here: https://www.matthewdgroves.com/
Matthew Groves stands outside the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University where he is getting his Masters in Divinity.
Michaela Mast, producer and co-host, sets up the microphone and checks audio in preparation for interview with Matthew Groves.
Harrison Horst, co-host and producer of Shifting Climates, looks over interview questions before interview with M. Div student Matthew Groves.