Before they’re lost to time

Published 6:52 pm Friday, February 7, 2020

Did you know that 80 of North Carolina’s counties are considered rural? Did you also know that, with the exception of the very large state of Texas, North Carolina has the largest rural population of any state in the U.S.?

Now, you do.

It’s this — North Carolina’s rural communities and rural people — that the state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is celebrating with a new initiative called Hello, North Carolina.

Hello, NC’s intention is to hear the stories, visit the landmarks, find the hometown heroes and unique histories, try the local food, find the locally made crafts, learn about the festivals and traditions of those rural counties. The point is to document, through photography and video, the natural beauty and cherished culture of each community.

It’s an enormous project that will start small, with the initial focus on four counties: Halifax, Madison, Columbus and Ashe — two from the western part of the state and two from the east.

Hello, NC’s purpose is to “share and promote authentic and compelling stories about North Carolina’s rural counties,” while at the same time share “traveling exhibits and educational resources highlighting the state’s extraordinary rural vibrancy and cultural diversity.” Those doing the documenting will also be sharing with the local community historical information from the State Archives.

The plan is to partner with local organizations and people to make it happen — and it’s a good plan. Too much of the past has disappeared because it was not documented. Now, we have all the tools necessary to make sure a way of life is not lost to the passage of time. All that’s missing is the participation of those that are the keepers of the stories and history of each community. So in the following months, until Beaufort County is asked to step onto the Hello, NC stage, take a moment or two to think about who you’d like to see participate, the stories that need to be told, before they, too, are lost to time.