Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 25: CASE STUDIES, REPORTS, SURVEYS, CONSULTANT DOCUMENTS (Not fully inventoried.)
1951 FU LIANG CHANG SURVEY OF PMSS
“WHITHER PINE MOUNTAIN?”
The Fu Liang Chang Survey of Pine Mountain has been cited by many as the pivotal tool that transitioned Pine Mountain from a boarding school within a community to a school that was a part of a rapidly shifting community. Over the course of its one-hundred-year history, Pine Mountain has been studied and re-studied and then studied again. The mountain institution is a remarkable test-bed for sociology, history, environmental studies, economics, ethnology, linguistics, education, religion, and a multitude of other topics, generally focused on the Appalachian region. Some have said of Pine Mountain that it is ever surprising in its surprises. especially say those who have made a deep dive into the archive at the school.
Studies by outside agencies and scholars have often served as a counterpoint to ideas of self, found in the local culture, and as a signifier of the local. The studies have been formal, as in this study, the so-called, 1951 Chang Survey, “Whither Pine Mountain,” and in the Roscoe Giffin Study conducted earlier in the summer of 1950. Both the Chang study and the Giffen study mark an important period of transition in the school; the years immediately following the closure of the boarding school. Both studies were commissioned by Berea College, a long-time affiliate of the rural settlement school.
There have also been the informal studies of the institution. These are found in personal autobiographies, and in the journalism of visitors and the travelogues of “passer-throughs,” and the diaries of staff “insiders.” Whatever the source, the studies and commentary provide one more window into the life at the settlement school and into the surrounding community.
The community under study in the Chang survey is the community covered by five school districts that were consolidated at Pine Mountain in 1949, the year of the closure of the boarding school and the creation of the so-called “consolidated school.” The five districts were Creech, Little Laurel, Big Laurel, Divide and Incline. Also included by virtue of its geography and not its “district” are the communities of Abner’s Branch and Turkey Fork.
Chang evaluates the educational, medical and agricultural needs of the community served by Pine Mountain school. He builds on the more in-depth study of his colleague, Dr. Roscoe Giffin and like Giffin is quick to acknowledge the limiting aspects of the regional geography, particularly on the practices of subsistence farming. He cites the Giffin study that indicated “only about 450 acres or 10% of the land holdings of families were cultivated for 1949 by over 50% of the families with an average of less than 5 acres.” It was the Semple narrative of economic possibilities limited by nature, but to that he added the limitations of our (U.S.) present economic system. He cites only two directions for those who dwell in the area: mining, logging, manufacturing, trades or part-time farming, part-time farming and logging and forest products.
What most of the formal studies generally recommended for the school was a pervasive communitarian point of view. The Chang survey is little different in its conclusions, finding teamwork to be at the center of the meaningful work of the institution and a community-centric approach to be central to planning. Like his predecessors, Chang saw the “rugged individualism” of the mountain pioneer to be a restraint on development of the area.
In section III, part 6 “Team Work,” he summarizes the survey result
To be community-centric Pine Mountain Settlement School has to include in its planning different types of adult education without sacrificing the efficiency of its consolidated school. The belief is that education for children and for adults, as has been pointed out before, are complementary and mutually strengthening. The excellent team work among the staff members of the consolidated school will be further expanded and extended to the work with and for the community. While the community organizer will serve as the main transmission lie between the community and the school, there are many other live wires connecting these two ends, through the children of the school, patients at the hospital and cooperators with and visitors to the farm and work shops. The members of the staff of Pine Mountain Settlement School will no longer be individual school teachers and specialized personnel in health, agriculture, wood-work, weaving and administration, but a team of purposeful community builders. A team of twenty community builders following an integrated plan will accomplish many times more than what can be accomplished by twenty individual workers. Through their different lines of service they will present to the people of the community the same ideals and ideas of the Christian way of life, follow the same scale of Christian values and press forward towards the same goal of a prosperous, enlightened, and happy Christian community. The team work of the whole staff rather than the brilliant work of any individual will carry the day in making Pine Mountain the community-centered school.
OUTLINE OF THE FU LIANG CHANG SURVEY
I. PINE MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY
(1.) Area and Population
(2.) Natural Limitations and Human Adjustments
II. PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL
(1.) Its Past Achievements
(2.) Its Present Status
III. WHAT OF THE FUTURE?
(1.) Recognition of Existing Limitations
(2.) Special Contributions of Pine Mountain Settlement School
(3.) Community Organizer
(4.) Suggested Fields of Organization for Community Service
(5.) Concerning the Hospital and the School Farm
(6.) Team Work
GALLERY: THE 1951 FU LIANG CHANG SURVEY OF PMSS, “Whither Pine Mountain?”