Following last week’s Tennessee fires, many families, businesses and wider communities may be beginning the rebuilding and recovery process to restore the Great Smoky Mountains around Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Since the area may be fondly remembered and recognised by travellers and prolific figures in both popular culture and politics, an opportunity to reestablish the area through social media and online movements may soon demonstrate the benefits of online content and communication.
One of the predominant figures in this restoration movement may be Gatlinburg native, Dolly Parton, who has taken a leading role in instigating aid for the area. Taking to Twitter to announce her aims, the country singer has opened a foundation called the “Dollywood foundation” which endeavors to support those who may need to be relocated after the event.
With the support of the public donations and her own revenue, Parton endeavors to supply affected families with $1000 per month for up to six months as they continue to restore their lives, stating how as Dollywood looks forward, “there are a lot of families who need our help rebuilding and restoring their lives and the beautiful land we all call home.” With this movement, she aims to engage and encourage public recognition of the event, and provoke consideration for those in need over the holiday season. At this time, there may be a focus on the immediate needs of the families and business, such as relocation and support, however as time goes on there may be other reparative and restorative requirements, such as rebuilding schools, homes and businesses and formulating preventative measures for the future of the Smoky Mountain region.
As the region is also home to Parton’s Dollywood park, assistance and publicity may be garnered furthermore by the fans and travellers to the attraction. In addition to this, there may be a selection of local companies recruiting volunteers and providing support to those seeking jobs, homes and legal aid, such as the Sevier County Rescue Squad and Volunteer East Tennessee.
Another Tennessee native, Miley Cyrus, may also be collaborating with Dolly Parton’s efforts through her organisation, the Happy Hippy Foundation, inciting how her personal passion for aid and her familiarity with her godmother’s home town has led her to team up for the cause. Outside of this cause, Cyrus and the Happy Hippy Foundation have worked with a variety of causes geared towards rebuilding and restoring the lives of those affected in events such as this, and provoke thought regarding many topics spanning from human rights and housing to education and animal welfare.
Even those focused on raising awareness without their own initiative movements may be helping the cause; President Elect Donald Trump took to twitter once more to respond, as did many country singers from in and around Tennessee. One example may be singer and actress Elaine Hendrix, who stated “East Tennessee, my beloved home, needs help,” and also later cited Parton’s campaign in a follow-up tweet. Through engaging with social media and their fans in such a way, awareness and discussion may be created across the internet regarding what people may do to help physically, financially or emotionally to support those in need.
The rebuilding process after events like the Tennessee fires may require consideration and collaboration from local communities, and now with the internet and social media, people from around the world may help those affected from their own homes. Whether it may be through locals attending nearby volunteering efforts or strangers sending across what they are able to, Tennessee may have a strong movement behind it to restore it to its usual beauty.
In which ways might society use events such as this to renew and regrow?