There’s an unusual reunion planned this weekend at the home of James and Dolly Madison. About forty descendants of slaves will visit from around the nation to help administrators tell the story of enslaved families at Montpelier.
Slaves were the first people to live at Montpelier – clearing the land and building a house in 1723. Over the next eighty years, the population of enslaved people would rise to 120, yet Education Director Christian Cotz says you wouldn’t know they were there.
It’s well documented that the American banjo has its origins in instruments brought to the colonies by enslaved Africans.
Virginia has a long history with the banjo, and it didn’t start with bluegrass--it started with enslaved Africans.
As early as 1781, Thomas Jefferson took note of the stringed gourd instruments his slaves played. Over the years, the banjo was transformed from an African instrument, to a predominantly white instrument with the familiar bluegrass twang.
The infrastructure in this country is a source of concern, as many aging roads and bridges need repair. A construction specialist at Virginia Tech is studying a seven hundred year old road in South America to see what modern engineers can learn about building roads that last.
The Inca Road runs from Ecuador to Chile; through rainforests, deserts, and over mountains. In some places it’s just a path through the woods, like you might see on the Appalachian Trail. In other places, feats of Inca engineering stand as testaments to their knowledge of construction.
For many places still blanketed in snow, it may be a while until we even see the ground again. But waiting patiently under there and soon to sprout, is a species so unique, that it’s hard to categorize, yet so common, you’ll know it instantly.
“Mushroom a Global History” is the name of a book Cynthia Bertelsen, a food writer and blogger in Blacksburg and an award winning cook, who's lived all over the world. More than a recipe book, she’s written a highly readable cultural history of the sometimes-controversial fungus.