We are often asked how we decide where to take Narrative 4. Typically, we need three things before we will test in a particular region: an author/advisor to take the lead, an established organization to serve as a partner, and potential funding. We found reason for Kentucky to be an exception to the rule.
In 2013, Ron Rash hosted Narrative 4 as part of Western Carolina University’s Spring Literary Festival. In the crowd during a panel discussion was a young attorney from Madison County, Kentucky. Wesley Browne had served as the bar association president and on the local ethics commission; his wife, Valetta, is directing attorney of a three-county area for Kentucky’s Department of Public Advocacy. The pair talked about N4 with co-founder Colum McCann well into the post-festival morning hours. Soon after, Wes and executive director Lisa Consiglio began to communicate regularly by email. Over time, it became clear that Wes had the connections, determination and passion to help Narrative 4 Kentucky become a reality. The time is right and the need is certainly apparent.
The Blue Grass state has the human resources to quickly foster the N4 mission. Kentucky teachers may be somewhat divided by political and religious views, but they are nearly universally united in their passion for the education of their students, and health of their communities.
Kentucky is a commonwealth tremendously rich in culture, heritage, and artists. A capable workforce and favorable economic conditions have drawn manufacturing and intellectual enterprise. However, drug dependency has damaged the lives of untold numbers of young people and the ripples have washed over both elder generations and offspring. Education statistics place Kentucky below the national average. Incarceration rates remain near the top, although crime rates are lower than most surrounding states and much of the country. There is much to be done. We invite you to join our narrative for Kentucky.