There is a particular public TV show in Tennessee that we like because it explores the relationship between people and the land and the environment in that state. And in the course of that examination, it also brushes up gently against what it means to be Southern.
We find it easiest to plumb the nature of Southern-ness when it's approached from an angle rather than head-on, since the topic is so elusive. It's kind of like seeing something that was previously only hinted at out of the corner of your eye, and suddenly it becomes familiar.
The show, "Live Green Tennessee," is a staple of WCTE, the Cookeville, Tenn., public television outlet serving the Upper Cumberland region that encompasses Nashville and environs.
Long-time host Melinda Keifer has the grace to let her subjects do most of the talking, and has the gift of eliciting their core interests, and the passions that motivate them.
The show pledges to explore the agricultural heritage and local wisdom of the region. Along the way, "Live Green Tennessee" ends up being as much about places as it is about people.
Here are links to a few of the stories from the show that stood out for us:
Here the Native Plant Rescue Squad, led by founder Gary Moll, works with builders and developers to move endangered plants -- of which there are an estimated 457 species in this area of East Tennessee -- from the path of construction and into other safer landscapes.
The Honey Man of Maryville, Tenn., Howard Kerr has been beekeeping for 50 years, and has a few insights to impart about his sweet science.
The annual Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., is more than just an outdoor showcase for outstanding music acts. The event organizers also ensure 30-plus tons of refuse are reclaimed via recycling and composting during the four days of the festival. How cool is that?
Roger Payne, owner of Miracle Mountain Farms of Cookeville, Tenn., is the undeniable star of this foray into sustainable farming. He demonstrates in a fascinating way how old tires are the ideal vessels for his green vision.
In this piece that may be the most popular of all "Live Green Tennessee" stories, CC Gardens founder Charlie Crawford of Nashville shows exactly how to grow heirloom microgreens, and how to turn a hobby into a commercial green enterprise. Kudos to Charlie for his generosity!
JOHN MORGAN has long been a seeker of things Southern. He lives elsewhere, but wants to inspire some element of the region to remain with him.