I grew up in the New York metropolitan area and learned some regional prejudices, as most of us do. It has been my pleasure, since I left New Jersey after college and have lived in other places, to find out that much of what I was told as a child is hogwash.
For example, it ALWAYS rains in Seattle and the Northwest. In February 2010 I joined my husband in Seattle when he attended a professional conference. The Winter Olympics were going on at the time, and my son (at home) urged me to go drive there to buy him a tee shirt. (ha ha silly boy) One morning, wandering the Pikes Street Market, I called him and told him I could see the Olympics.
While in elementary school in New Jersey, my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Walker, proudly told us she was from Monongalia County in West Virginia, where the Monongahela River flowed north to Pittsburgh to join the Allegheny and form the Ohio. Away from her hearing, we marveled over a state where the county and the river had names that were close but not quite right…what did that mean about the people there? Were people west of the Delaware River stupid? And here I am, living in West Virginia.
There still is a lot of poverty here and many people seem not to be interested in places outside of their county. And yet, there are plenty of opportunities for education, culture, and industry here. Marshall University, perhaps known to you from the movie We Are Marshall, has several world class programs that I know close-up including the Music Department and the Forensic Science Department, which continually ranks one of the best in the country. There are numerous programs to bring opportunities into the coal counties and to introduce diversified industry and economic development.
The city of Huntington, declining from its heyday 50 years ago is experiencing a revitalization on a grassroots level, with small shops and programs introduced and becoming more active over the past few years. People make the difference, when they get involved in something they love and expose others to the activity.