This is an ongoing series of in-depth articles celebrating the people, businesses, and organizations of Appalachian Ohio. This series was started as part of my AmeriCorps service for The Winding Road, a network of local people all dedicated to developing new economies in the region, and telling success stories of local residents. Meeting and listening to these people has been perhaps the most rewarding part of my work. I'm a firm believer that the simple act of listening can help foster social change, and these stories are a way to understand the region from a new perspective.

Twin City Opera House


Driving down Route 60 from Zanesville to McConnelsville, the Muskingum River is always to your right, snaking beside the road. And in late winter the river is swollen, churning, and a little angry: it is a presence to be reckoned with. The river is beautiful, too, and as you enter town, it takes place of honor, centered between McConnelsville and its neighbor Malta, with enough gentle hills flanking either side to make you feel snug in the river valley. I came to McConnelsville to visit Adam Shriver, the executive director of the Twin City Opera House. Continuously operating since 1892, the Opera House sits prominently in the town square. …

Sunflower Bakery


Sunflower Bakery sits on a busy Nelsonville Public Square. There is a sense of vibrancy here: as I walk down the street, older and younger couples pass by, workers are cleaning up the square’s central fountain, and cars slowly drive past. I step into the bakery, and it is bright and warm. The smell of fresh bread hits me as soon as I open the door. I am greeted by two women, Rosemary behind the counter, and Liz Florentino, the owner.

I am here to collect stories for the Winding Road, a network of people and businesses and organizations all working to help each other build strong and sustainable economies in Appalachian Ohio. …