The story of McDowell County, West Virginia, is the story of America. Of boom and bust economies. Of small towns facing changes beyond their control. And of challenges and triumphs of every size.

Explore this corner of America through the stories of over 30 residents who live here today. Hollow is the story of their home. 

Hollow is an interactive documentary and community participatory project that examines the future of rural America through the eyes and voices of those living in McDowell County, W.Va. Hollow combines video portraits, data visualizations, photography, soundscapes, community-generated content and grassroots mapping to bring these stories to life through an online experience.

Using HTML5 to merge cinematic and emotional storytelling with the web, the stories of residents have been brought to life for the outside world to understand the often overlooked sector of our society. The interactive documentary provides a “lean forward” and “lean back” experience and encourages each user to not only consume media but also be an active participant and contribute to the narrative.

While Hollow is a storytelling project at its core, the team also strives to encourage change and growth through new media. By creating an online experience, Hollow shares a new image and story of McDowell County through the participation of community members, generates widespread awareness of issues surrounding small towns throughout the nation and across the world and encourages conversation and efforts to plan for the future.

—Elaine Sheldon

Editor's Note: Sheldon's project was recognized by World Press Photo, taking 3rd Prize in the "Interactive Documentary" category.