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I wanted to explain the origins of this project and why it came about. In 2017 I started work on a documentary film called Raised by Wolves. The film investigates the targeting and risk of radicalization of young Appalachian men and boys exposed to weaponized misinformation, toxic content and extremist violence in on and offline spaces. At times dark, visceral and poignant, the documentary tells an important story intended to help communities confront the systemic nature of this problem - rooted in our times, our tech and our history. 


But it’s not the only story about teens in Appalachia.

I wanted to ensure that even as we dove into one deep topic that we also surfaced a multitude of narratives about boyhood in Appalachia, about gender in Appalachia, about teenhood in Appalachia. This is the beginning of that work. 

Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, we’ve worked over the past two years with award-winning photographer and filmmaker Curren Sheldon to document a glimpse into the lives and perspectives of several Appalachian teens. This series is also introduced by an Appalachian poet and essayist musing on their own boyhood and journey to adulthood through a complicated landscape of masculinity as it collided with shame and pride and identity formation. They are generous and intimate with their story, which is shared here anonymously. 


This is the first in a documentary series created to share a diverse array of full and complex stories – across race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability and class - of Appalachian teenhood – as defined by themselves, in their own words and media. 


We are inviting submissions for a Day in Life series from Appalachians age 14-22 to document the realities, intimate perspectives, joys, struggles and resilience of diverse teens and young adults throughout the Appalachian region. These submissions may be featured in upcoming multimedia projects from 100 Days in Appalachia and our partner organization the Rural Digital Youth Resiliency Project (RDYR), an independent nonprofit investigative reporting and research organization that advances public understanding of the unique risks that America’s rural youth face online. Learn more about the Day in Life project here.

RDYR is soon launching a monthly newsletter – Generation Zeitgeist – featuring cultural analyses and insight into the inner lives of Zoomers online, directly from Zoomers. From memes, music and fashion to the fears, politics, tech and trends influencing their spaces. Sign up for the newsletter for a candid ook at who we are and where we are online, written and produced by rural members of Generation Z.

Dana Coester

Editor-in-Chief, 100 Days in Appalachia 

Executive Director, Rural Digital Youth Resiliency Project


Curren Sheldon is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker and photographer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is the director of photography and producer of two Netflix Original Documentaries "Heroin(e)" and "Recovery Boys," and his work has been commissioned by or featured on Netflix, HBO, PBS Frontline and The New York Times. You can find him at and on Instagram @currensheldon.

"There is no one way to be a man – nor is there one way to be an Appalachian man. Our region contains multitudes, and perhaps in no way is that truer than in the type of men you will find here. "

Gen Z? Submit a "Day in the Life" video to the Rural Digital Youth Resiliency Project

for a chance to be featured in an upcoming documentary!


100 Days in Appalachia is a collaborative nonprofit newsroom written for Appalachians, by Appalachians. We have an open-source, co-publishing model and share content from Appalachia’s diverse communities with regional, national and international media organizations.

Read more about 100 Days in Appalachia’s mission, funding and collaborating partners here.