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The Porch: Growing older in the mountains

Porch rural retirees photo collage
Lilly Knoepp
For this special episode of the Porch, BPR spoke with community members from Madison, Swain, Jackson, Macon Counties and more about what it means to be retired in the mountains.

In this episode of The Porch, a production of the BPR news team, we hear a special on rural retirees.

Across Western North Carolina, about 25 percent of the population is 65 and older. Before retirement these members of our community worked at every job and lived everywhere. So who are the people who have decided to spend their retirement in the mountain - whether they moved here or were born here?

Today you are going to meet a few of them. Retirees from across the region called into BPR with their stories about how their lives have changed since retirement, the history they remember and how they see this region changing.

  • Jackson County author and song writer Dave Waldrop about how his mindset has changed since retirement on talking about loss, traditions and puns. We shares pieces from his books, "Roll Your Eyes Now," "Am I: A Mother and Son's Collection of Poems," and songs, "WPA," "Mr. Operator," and "Sweet Country Music."
  • BPR listeners called in to share why they recommend retiring in mountains of Western North Carolina - or not.
  • Sara Jane Melton, director of the Region A Area Agency on Aging explains what the retiree population in the region looks like and what resources are available.
  • Franklin resident Selma Sparks looks back on her life as a civil rights activist and journalist in 1960's Harlem - including an interview with civil rights leader Malcolm X - and talks about what made her want to move to the region.

(The BPR News Presents theme song is The Vibes by Audiobinger.)

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.