Thinking Outside the Girl Box: Teaming Up with Resilient Youth in Appalachia (Race, Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia)

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9780821420607: Thinking Outside the Girl Box: Teaming Up with Resilient Youth in Appalachia (Race, Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia)
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Thinking Outside the Girl Box is a true story about a remarkable youth development program in rural West Virginia. Based on years of research with adolescent girls — and adults who devoted their lives to working with them — Thinking Outside the Girl Box reveals what is possible when young people are challenged to build on their strengths, speak and be heard, and engage critically with their world.

Based on twelve years of field research, the book traces the life of the Lincoln County Girls’ Resiliency Program (GRP), a grassroots, community nonprofit aimed at helping girls identify strengths, become active decision makers, and advocate for social change. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the GRP flourished. Its accomplishments were remarkable: girls recorded their own CDs, published poetry, conducted action research, opened a coffeehouse, performed an original play, and held political rallies at West Virginia’s State Capitol. The organization won national awards, and funding flowed in. Today, in 2013, the programming and organization are virtually nonexistent.

Thinking Outside the Girl Box raises pointed questions about how to define effectiveness and success in community-based programs and provides practical insights for anyone working with youth. Written in an accessible, engaging style and drawing on collaborative ethnographic research that the girls themselves helped conduct, the book tells the story of an innovative program determined to challenge the small, disempowering “boxes” girls and women are so often expected to live in.

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About the Author:

Linda Spatig is professor of educational foundations at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

Layne Amerikaner is a communications specialist at People For the American Way in Washington, DC.

Review:

“Writing between hope and despair, and with tremendous grace, this extraordinary pair of mother-daughter researchers reveal the limits that young Appalachian women face in breaking free of the strictures of gender and the injury of being working class in America.”
―Ruth Behar, University of Michigan professor and author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys



"I read the entire thing in 2 days!  It is incredible!  It is like a love story!  I laughed, I cried, I was angry, I grieved...simply incredible!!!"
―Shelley Gaines, Founder, Girls Resiliency Program of Lincoln County, West Virginia



Thinking Outside the Girl Box reads as a delicious, compelling, collaborative ethnography that escorts readers into the delicate, rugged human terrain of life in Appalachia, where girls contend with dreams, relationships, possibilities, disappointments, the delights and struggles of rural life in a stretch of disinvested America. The book is written with a spirit of sweet invitation into a love story indeed; a mother-daughter adventure; an intimate essay on girls' desire for lives of meaning and creativity; a sad obituary on a program that carried the girls on the wings of possibility. We meet young women, adult mentors, Shelley and Ric who carve the space and hold the girls, and we bear witness to the possibility and fragility of programs devised to support youth in a nation that has banished them to the margins in times of swelling inequality gaps.

This book is beautifully accessible to undergraduates or graduates; if you are trying to teach students to appreciate "difference" and imagine "Others," you don't need a passport. Come to West Virginia and meet young women in our own country, sisters in the mountains, with few opportunities, enormous capacity and rich desires. Spatig and Amerikaner are gifted story-tellers. Together, with the young women and their mentors, they have crafted a sweet jewel, opening the box of ethnography, challenging the girdle of evaluation, asking us to peer inside the intimacy of growing up girl in rural America.”
―Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor, The Graduate Center, CUNY

“The aim of this book is to tell the story of rural, Appalachia girls in a youth development program―their lives presented through their own words, and the words of the authors, Spatig and Amerikaner, highlighting the girls’ challenges, struggles, fears, likes, and dislikes.... Situating these girls’ voices in a framework of ‘collaborative ethnography’ amidst a preferred research focus in the U.S. on quantitative, standardized, accountability models is refreshing, timely, accurate, and serves to highlight what we need to know most about girls’ and schooling.”
― Brett Elizabeth Blake, professor, School of Education, Curriculum and Instruction, St. John’s University (NY)

“This book grows out of a ten-year community based research project and exemplifies the possibilities of what can happen when outsiders tell stories about Appalachia. Beginning as a program evaluation of a youth resiliency program, it morphed into a collaborative ethnographic study of much reflection and fun, too much data, too little money, many mothers and daughters and too many necessary losses. Honest about the tensions, it is designed to move beyond the walls of the university as it tells stories about the positive legacies of a program that helped adolescent girls in small-town West Virginia live bigger lives. What results are complex tales of living poor and girlhood, girl-driven interventions, the violence of low expectations and the weight of gender norms. It is a life history of an organization told through strong characters about lessons learned, loving and leaving, poetry and song, and questions of power, voice and language. I recommend it to those interested in Appalachian studies, girlhood studies, community based activism, and collaborative ethnography as well as general readers interested in a darn good story.”
―Patti Lather, professor, The Ohio State University, Education Studies Cultural Foundations

“Written with great tenderness and insight, this book portrays West Virginia through the eyes of those who seldom appear in the literature about Appalachia: rural girls. The stories of their struggles and transformations are revelatory―instructive and beautiful in equal measure. P.S. I love the book!”
―Barbara Ellen Smith, Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech, and co-editor of Transforming Places: Lessons from Appalachia

“Far too often theories become abstract and convoluted―losing connection to reality in the pursuit of ever higher levels of elaboration. Theorists cite other theorists to prove their erudition. This book, however, is a story that advances theory. Spatig and Amerikaner take life experience that they have felt―love, disappointment and suffering―and conceptualize that knowledge into critical theory. This book is not just about Appalachian girls. This book is about how we study and think about life around us. This book is about how scholars should expose social inequality and oppression and then write about it. When all is said and done what will be remembered are their conclusions about how we do our work and why.”
― Lynda Ann Ewen, Founder, Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia at Marshall University

“This is an extraordinary collaborative ethnography, one that authentically involves research participants in multiple stages of the research and writing processes. But it is also much more than this. It is, as Spatig and Amerikaner suggest, a love story that both warms and breaks the heart. Thinking Outside the Girl Box documents the amazing successes, and then the unsettling demise, of the Girls’ Resiliency Program, a community-based youth development program in one of the poorest counties in one of the poorest states in the country. Make no mistake, though, this isn’t another account about victims of rural poverty. The adult leaders and young women who are both subjects and research partners in this study do struggle against enormous odds; yet their remarkable and resilient commitment to model positive relationships and to make a difference to each other and within their communities inspires hope for what is possible when we decide to work together for change.  Anyone with an interest in youth programs, Appalachia, rural poverty, or gender studies―and, of course, collaborative ethnography―should read this book.”
―Luke Eric Lassiter, author of The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography

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Book Description Ohio University Press, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Thinking Outside the Girl Box is a true story about a remarkable youth development program in rural West Virginia. Based on years of research with adolescent girlsâ -â and adults who devoted their lives to working with themâ -â Thinking Outside the Girl Box reveals what is possible when young people are challenged to build on their strengths, speak and be heard, and engage critically with their world. Based on twelve years of field research, the book traces the life of the Lincoln County Girls Resiliency Program (GRP), a grassroots, community nonprofit aimed at helping girls identify strengths, become active decision makers, and advocate for social change. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the GRP flourished. Its accomplishments were remarkable: girls recorded their own CDs, published poetry, conducted action research, opened a coffeehouse, performed an original play, and held political rallies at West Virginia s State Capitol. The organization won national awards, and funding flowed in. Today, in 2013, the programming and organization are virtually nonexistent. Thinking Outside the Girl Box raises pointed questions about how to define effectiveness and success in community-based programs and provides practical insights for anyone working with youth. Written in an accessible, engaging style and drawing on collaborative ethnographic research that the girls themselves helped conduct, the book tells the story of an innovative program determined to challenge the small, disempowering u201cboxes u201d girls and women are so often expected to live in. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780821420607

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Book Description Ohio University Press, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Thinking Outside the Girl Box is a true story about a remarkable youth development program in rural West Virginia. Based on years of research with adolescent girlsâ -â and adults who devoted their lives to working with themâ -â Thinking Outside the Girl Box reveals what is possible when young people are challenged to build on their strengths, speak and be heard, and engage critically with their world. Based on twelve years of field research, the book traces the life of the Lincoln County Girls Resiliency Program (GRP), a grassroots, community nonprofit aimed at helping girls identify strengths, become active decision makers, and advocate for social change. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the GRP flourished. Its accomplishments were remarkable: girls recorded their own CDs, published poetry, conducted action research, opened a coffeehouse, performed an original play, and held political rallies at West Virginia s State Capitol. The organization won national awards, and funding flowed in. Today, in 2013, the programming and organization are virtually nonexistent. Thinking Outside the Girl Box raises pointed questions about how to define effectiveness and success in community-based programs and provides practical insights for anyone working with youth. Written in an accessible, engaging style and drawing on collaborative ethnographic research that the girls themselves helped conduct, the book tells the story of an innovative program determined to challenge the small, disempowering u201cboxes u201d girls and women are so often expected to live in. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780821420607

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