Archive for April, 2006

Appalachian Voices Celebrates Earth Day with Appalachian State University

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006 - posted by fpb

Appalachian Voices celebrated this Earth Day at Appalachian State University in their annual Earth Day tabling event on campus. The event brought together students, faculty and community members to educate one another on how everyone can do their part to protect and preserve the Earth. Thank you to the volunteers that tabled for Appalachian Voices; Adam Wells, Erica Palmer, Adam Johnson, and Stephen Callihan.
Check out the full article!

Western NC Republicans want Outer Banks Drilling

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006 - posted by jw

From the WSJounal:

A bill supported by four of the seven Republicans in North Carolina’s congressional delegation could open the Outer Banks to natural-gas exploration.

Hmm…which co-sponsors do we have today?

Charles Taylor, R-11th

Patrick McHenry R-10th

and Sue Myrick, R-9th

Hey wait! You can’t get away so easy…
Virginia Foxx, NC-5

None of them anywhere near the Outer Banks? So, I don’t guess oil spills off the Outer Banks will bother them.
Foxx, Myrick, Taylor, and McHenry are making it so obvious how beholden to oil companies they are, that they are making themselves into a laughingstock. Unfortunately, these clowns are in power, and they represent Appalachia!

Senators Dole and Burr both oppose drilling in the outer banks, as does Governor Easley, as do a majority of North Carolinians in every district!
North Carolina Republican congressman Walter Jones R-3 strongly opposes the bill. I wonder why?…
Lets take a look at his district…


Virginia Foxx (who called the Arctic Wildlife Refuge a “barren wasteland”) absolutely takes the cake once again…
Mrs. Foxx, what does it sound like when Congresswomen are completely controlled by oil companies?

“I think that it is not right for us to ignore natural resources that we have that could reduce energy prices,”

Or, instead of stamping an oil rig on every last beautiful spot in the world, we could increase mileage standards for automobiles. We could encourage public transportation and walking. We could invest in biodiesel and alternative fuels. We could ride our bikes. We must face the reality of our dwindling resources. The politicians who hold power have shown they will not do it for us.

The Outer Banks are a national treasure, and should remain so

New Head of EPA, Accused of Manipulating Data, to be Confirmed Tommorrow?

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006 - posted by jw

[Thanks to kissingrock 🙂 – jdub]
Any Virginians out there reading? Senator John Warner needs to hear from us. And really, I don’t think it would be outrageous for anybody to call, from anywhere. It’s not like the wind don’t blow across state lines.

Tomorrow may be a bad day for the EPA our nation and our health. as if things are not bad enough already.

“From the Union of Concerned Scientists

Abuser of Science Nominated for Top EPA Job – Call Today

In his five years at the Environmental Protection Agency, William Wehrum has distorted scientific analysis on toxic mercury emissions and attempted to marginalize the role of agency scientists in protecting the air we breathe. Tomorrow, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will decide whether or not to confirm Wehrum as the EPA’s top air quality official. Senator John Warner is a member of this committee.

Call today, April 25, 2006, and ask your senator to oppose Wehrum’s confirmation.

Senator John Warner can be reached at (202) 224-2023.”

[ Senator Graham of South Carolina also sits on this committee. The Senate switchboard is 202-224-3121. Commit that to memory 🙂 ]

AmeriCorps’ “Project Conserve” helps Appalachian Voices restore our regions forests.

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006 - posted by Appalachian Voices

The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy currently administers one of 16 AmeriCorps grants awarded in North Carolina in 2005. “Project Conserve” is the only AmeriCorps project working toward conservation, and supports volunteers working on a variety of conservation activities. These include farm protection and forest management, research and water quality monitoring, community education and outreach, storm water management, and promotion of the natural heritage of western North Carolina. Project Conserve is funded by the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Project Conserve 2005-06 members are: Lindsay Benedict, Benji Burrell, Dawa Clark, Keith Dycus, Angela Fernandini, Curtis Harris, Suzanne Hohn, Andrew Kota, Rob Lamb, David Mahaffey, Jake McLean, Megan Mailloux, Tonya Moore, Allison Shaw, Adrian Sherman, and Molly Wafle.

On Feburary 6th, 2006, Project Conserve featured on WNCW 88.7 FM in Western North Carolina on “Our Southern Community” hosted by Ned Ryan Doyle!

Low Speed Connection
Directly from Appalachian Voices – Flash Player

Directly from Appalachian Voices – mp3

High Speed Connections
Directly from Appalachian Voices – Flash Player

Directly from Appalachian Voices – mp3

Directly from Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy – mp3

Appalachian Voices
Appalachian Voices empowers people to defend our region’s rich natural and cultural heritage by providing them with tools and strategies for successful grassroots campaigns. Currently, Benji Burrell is working full-time to oversee the revision and distribution of “Managing Your Woodlands,” a handbook for landowners designed to tackle one of the most important conservation challenges facing the Southeast – improving the management of private forests.

Asheville’s Green
Asheville’s Green preserves the city’s last remaining urban green spaces, which are vital to its culture, identity, and sense of place, by coordinating existing land conservation efforts and addressing unmet needs and resources.

Environmental & Conservation Organization
ECO is dedicated to preserving the natural heritage of Henderson County and the mountain region through education, recreation, service, and civic action.

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina
The Foothills Conservancy works cooperatively with landowners and other conservation partners to protect important natural areas and open spaces of the Blue Ridge Foothills region.

French Broad River Watershed Education Center
The French Broad River Training Center provides comprehensive nonpoint source educational programming to landowners, concerned citizens, natural resource managers, and public officials.

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy preserves the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
SAHC protects the world’s oldest mountains for the benefit of present and future generations. The Conservancy works with individuals and local communities to identify, preserve, and manage the region’s important lands.

Transylvania Boys & Girls Club
The Boys and Girls Club works to help youth of all backgrounds, with special concern for those from disadvantaged circumstances, develop the qualities needed to become responsible citizens and leaders.

Upper Broad River Watershed Protection Program
The Upper Broad River Watershed Protection Program is dedicated to the conservation and protection of soil and water resources in the communities of the Upper Broad River Watershed by providing landowners with technical assistance and advice that is free and non-regulatory.

Open Thread

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006 - posted by jw

Happy Spring!

Here are some interesting links (Big thanks Benji!)

:bug:The President has suspended environmental rules for oil companies. Gee…whats next? This won’t make gas cheaper or increase production. It will just make it easier for the gas companies to make more money. This is a travesty.

A recent advisory from North Carolina health officials says that 22 kinds of seafood have dangerously high levels of mercury, up from seven kinds in previous advisories. The smallmouth bass has made the list for the first time. (This is what happens when you suspend environmental rules)

The Fayetville Online opines that we humans will have to adapt to the coyote, rather than the other way around.

Eaglets make history at Carolina Raptor Center Theres even a cute little video. 🙂

I am so proud of my school! ASU just revieved a $458,000 grant to help implement the new state energy plan A huge shoutout from us to them for continuing to do amazing work with alternatives, energy incentives, and awareness. The groups of people who are working on this project give me hope on a weekly basis. Thanks guys 🙂

‘Jesus would give thanks for every clean drop of water, every fresh breath of air” – Reverend Gayla Collins reflects on why the environment and religion must depend on each other.

Your turn.

Finding My Voice, Helping Others To Speak UN/MTR

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006 - posted by fpb

…I rambled, oh yeah, then settled in the Appalachians, right on the edge of the Coal. The deep and the stripable both.

1973 or thereabouts. I hooked up with some of the early Appalshop folks. It was a wild and crazy time. One night, a bunch of us, and Mutsmag, took ourselves up on Pine Mountain, on the boarder of Virginia and Kentucky.

We ambled around the outcrops, in the partial moonlight night. We were Owls, and All That is Nocturnal, and it was Good. A couple of us might have been spoken to by God, but if we were, we didn’t talk much about it, we just incorporated it into our lives. What little lives some of us had left.

It got toward dawn, and Lice said “We’ve got to go!” I said, “Let’s wait. It’s almost time for it to get light, let’s wait.” I looked out into the darkness, where dawn would break over the incredible lands of Eastern Kentucky. There was silence. And then Lice said, with this strange choking sound in his voice, that I had never heard before…..” You don’t want to see it. Believe me. This is my home. I was raised out there. You don’t want to see it.”

Some years later, I saw my first strip mine. At that time, I was told that under 10 percent of the surface of Eastern Kentucky was gone. GONE.

At this point in time, in West Virginia, it is estimated that 15-25 percent of the mountains no longer exist. GONE, Not coming back. EVER.

First the trees
Image hosting by Photobucket

Then the soil, the rocks, the rest of the life…then the explosions, the dust, rolling boulders, the roaring coal trucks. Poison water, and the death of Communities. I had no voice, and so was silent.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Fast forward…

I learned from faithfull that there is a contingent of people who will be heard by the United Nations. These are my Brothers and Sisters, my friends…..forget that we’ve never met. These are the displaced, much like the Katrina folks….only it has happened to them for 50 years. Floods? Yeah Boy!.

Take a virtual flyover of MTR.

Toxic waves of the contents of holding ponds with old dams a breakin’,

Jack Spadaro is an expert on coal slurry impoundments, and was on the federal investigation team that examined the Martin County disaster. It was a 1972 slurry dam accident at Buffalo Creek in West Virginia that has defined Spadaro’s career in mine safety. One hundred and twenty-five people were killed and 4,000 left homeless in that accident.

…boulders rolling down what used to be the mountainside, and fear of being killed in your bed.

Chaining themselves to dozers, while the elderly do all they can, even if it’s only sitting on a lawn chair on a bridge. (A little cheat here, this is actually a pic from a timber protest in the west. I like to pretend that is me in that chair. It could be any little old Appalachian grannie!)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Props to melvin over at The Daily Kos, who supplied this information in comments when this peice was posted there.

The woman in the chair was Joan Norman. Right after this photo was taken, she was in jail with a friend of mine and shared her story. This protest, near Selma OR was her last. One of her first was in Selma AL. She has since passed on, unfortunately. I am quite sure she is with you in spirit.

You can read a little about Joan Norman’s life here.

I believe that photo was from the “womens’ day of protest.” Everybody on the bridge, everyone lying across the road, all women. Supported very much by their men in the community of course.

So now we have a chance to speak to the world. Will you help?

I have 2 envelopes sitting on my desk. There’s five bucks, and a penny, goin’ in each one.

One is to the fund for Valle Vidal.

One is to President Fire Thunder.

I am writing a new one out as soon as I finish this little rant, and get it posted. To OVEC,
tagged “for UN trip”.

This May, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development will meet in New York to discuss international energy strategy. Most government officials continue to ignore the atrocities of mountaintop removal, coal sludge impoundments, and underground injections of sludge, so it is up to the people to let the world know the harsh realities of an economy built on “cheap” electricity.

The United Nations needs to know that we cannot have sustainable communities without the mountains on which we rely for clean water, clean air, our health and our children’s futures. It is the people of Appalachian coal mining communities who are most immediately paying the true costs of coal, and so…

The first Coalfield Delegation to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, a group of inspiring coalfield residents, is prepared to take the truth to the UN, but we need your support if we are going to make it. Please help us raise the $7,000 so we can get to New York this May and ensure that the international debate on sustainable energy development includes the voice of the people of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
Send checks to OVEC, PO Box 6753, Huntington, WV 25773-675. Be sure to write “UN delegation” in the memo line of the check.

I can’t afford this, but I can’t not afford it either. I want my people to speak to the world. I want to help send them to do it. I hope you do too.

I am finding my voice. Practice makes perfect, they say. Sometimes, particularly on sunny Sunday mornings, I subscribe to the old saying from New England though. “There’s good, and there’s good enough. And that’s good enough.” So this will just have to do. For now.

Inspired by faithfulls excellent diary
of several weeks ago.


Ron Rash: Appalachia Made Straight

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006 - posted by fpb

[Jeff Biggers’latest book is “The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture and Enlightenment to America.” Buy The United States of Appalachia from a local book store. And read reviews here, here, and here. I just picked up this book Friday and am thrilled to get to read it. Ill be reviewing it here – jdub]

Excerpt from The Bloomsbury Review
Based in his native mountains of western North Carolina, Ron Rash’s third novel is a powerful, and at times hair-raising, story of historical loss and recovery, haunted by the spirits of the Civil War that still breathe life or death into our modern experience. For Appalachians, and the rest of the nation, World Made Straight (Holt) is a brilliant reminder that the past is often a prologue for our contemporary challenges. For Travis, a young high school drop-out unaware that his fishing trip on Caney Creek is about to launch him on a death-defying bildungsroman, the spirits of his past reside in an abandoned but not forgotten meadow in Madison County. Travis stumbles onto a plot of marijuana in the backwoods; but, this is just the first, and inevitably treacherous, step into an even greater secret hidden from sight. Steeped in the rich language and lyricism of Appalachia that has won Rash national acclaim as a poet, World Made Straight joins Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon as an important lyric page turner for our times; an American masterpiece about the power of unresolved history to shatter, subvert and ultimately heal our heart-breaking attempts to understand our identities and own times.

Leaving behind an abusive home, the young Travis eventually takes refuge at the trailer of Leonard, a once idealistic teacher who has lost his job and child after being framed for drugs. Leonard turns on society; he ends up dealing drugs and retreating to his backwoods haunt as a disaffected bibliophile. His trailer become a magnet for other lost souls, including Dena, a strung-out pill-popping naïf who trades sex for kindness; who declares, in one of the novel’s most relentless moments, that she realized she had lost control over her life at the age of seven.

As dark as any Russell Banks novel, sharing his afflicted characters and their penchant for self-inflicted destruction, World Made Straight is a little threatening at times, yet big-hearted, even funny and always moving. One of the novel’s best characters, the vicious drug cultivating Carlton Toomey, defies the caricature of the hillbilly outlaw in a biting riposte to outside stereotypes; he hides his glasses and crossword puzzles when the urban drug dealers arrive.

Leonard, though, is a teacher at heart, and World Made Straight emerges as one of the most beautiful portraits of a natural teacher’s role as a guide despite the circumstances, or as Rash quotes Mozart, “the crookedness” of the times. Leonard not only sets Travis back on track toward his education and career, piling him down with history books and classical music, but provides him with a map to a bitter past that both men share. That past, and an infamous (and real) massacre at Shelton Laurel during the Civil War, opens up a memory vein that is both illuminating and irreconcilable.

“Why do you reckon people don’t talk much about what happened up here?” Travis asked.

“The men who shot them were also from this country. Even after the war some folks got killed because of what happened that morning. People believed it was better not to talk about it.”

In the end, Leonard and Travis are forced by history to make decisions that affect their daily lives. In a place where “landscape as destiny” shapes an unforgiving world, Rash packs his sentences and scenes with compelling and beautiful images—the recovery of the crushed glasses of a young boy killed at the massacre—that will leave the reader struggling with the same questions long after they have finished the book.

Good novels are written by people who are not frightened, George Orwell declared in his landmark essay, Inside the Whale. Beyond any cultural or regional limitations, Rash is one of the most dauntless, gifted and original writers today. World Made Straight is an enormously moving novel that will be read, discussed and grappled with beyond the rest of our lives. As the Robert Penn Warren for a new generation, Rash is an Appalachian writer deserving as much national attention as possible.

Email a friend about Rash’s work on Appalachia today; or even better, buy a book at your local bookstore and pass it on.

Kentucky Writers Speak Out Against Mountaintop Removal

Monday, April 24th, 2006 - posted by fpb

Some of Kentucky’s well known writers, Wendell Berry, Bobbie Ann Mason, Mary Ann Taylor Hall and others writers spoke out against mountaintop removal at a community event at historic Union Church. They read excerpts from Kentuckians for the Commonwealth organized the tour for the writers and are organizing a “Mountain Witness Tour” in Perry County on May 13, which will show participants destruction from mountaintop removal mining and give members a chance to meet people affected by it.

For more information about Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, write to P.O. Box 1450, London, KY, 40743, or call (859) 985-7480.

Read the full story.

Office of Surface Mining, Wrecklamation and Enforcement Proposes Weaker Revegetation Rules

Monday, April 24th, 2006 - posted by fpb

On April 6, 2006–when they thought we weren’t looking–the US Office of Surface Mining, Wrecklamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) announced proposals to dramatically weaken revegetation rules for mountaintop removal mines (and other mines) in Tennessee. You can help stop these proposals!

Briefly, OSMRE proposes to: (1) delete the minimum requirements of eighty percent (80%) ground cover for certain postmining land uses and provide that herbaceous ground cover be limited to that necessary to control erosion and support the postmining land use; and (2) exempt areas developed for wildlife habitat, undeveloped land, recreation, or forestry from the requirements that bare areas shall not exceed one-sixteenth (1/16) acre in size and total not more than ten percent (10%) of the area seeded.


While the picture above depicts how the landscape looks before revegetation, according to an artist’s rendition, this this is what the landscape will look like after OSMRE’s rule changes have been implemented by the mining company


You can help stop these proposals by contacting OSMRE no later than 4:00 p.m. e.s.t. on May 8, 2006. For more information on the proposal and how to file comments, go to

Open Thread

Monday, April 24th, 2006 - posted by jw

Three cheers for the ivory bill!!

Playing stickball against these boys on saturday is why Im so sore today. (ouch!)

Name that bridge…


Happy Finals week! 😛