On April 13, a crowd of over 300 pipeline fighters, neighbors and community members gathered at the beautiful Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville to watch the new documentary, “Not On This Land: The Fight Against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.” The screening was co-hosted by Appalachian Voices and the Southern Environmental Law Center. A screening the evening before in Buckingham County, hosted by the Friends of Buckingham, drew a crowd of 40 people, including many community members who are featured in the film.
The two screenings brought together people to celebrate the fight that brought down the behemoth ACP. “Not On This Land: The Fight Against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” directed by Christopher Landry, profiles some of the West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina communities who helped defeat the fracked-gas pipeline. The film uplifts the collective hard work that led to the ACP’s cancellation and shares important stories of community power by highlighting members of the Union Hill Community and pipeline fighters in North Carolina and West Virginia.
After the Charlottesville screening, guests were treated to a moderated panel discussion led by Kate Boyle, deputy executive director of Appalachian Voices. The panel featured Pastor Paul Wilson, of Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Buckingham, VA; John Laury, community leader and fourth-generation Buckingham farmer; Chad Oba, president of Friends of Buckingham; and Greg Buppert, senior attorney at Southern Environmental Law Center.
Panelists discussed the importance of collaboration between the communities affected by this project, the surprises and challenges of the six-year fight to beat the ACP, and the national long-term impacts from this victory.
The Charlottesville screening left many energized to continue the fight against the beleaguered Mountain Valley Pipeline. “It was so moving to have people in the film present and hear from them directly,” said POWHR Coalition Advocacy Director Grace Tuttle. “I also appreciated having Mountain Valley Pipeline fighters there, as well as people who have fought both projects, and I was so encouraged by the auditorium full of people who were united to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure.”
“For me, it was one of the honors of my career to tell the story of so many extraordinary people,” said director Christopher Landry. “It became clear, in interview after interview, that this was a movement that drew its strength from the power of love — love for the land, for the water, and for one another. I hope this story inspires others who find themselves fighting to protect their land from powerful forces.”
The screening begins a 2023 regional tour for the film, which will include stops in North Carolina and West Virginia and communities along the ACP route. Stay tuned for a full schedule of screenings!
Although the ACP was canceled, people impacted by the project continue to seek justice, restoration of their land and return of their easements, as recently profiled in the Nelson County Times. The community group Friends of Nelson details steps for easement return in this recent publication and restoration efforts are occurring in many counties along the route, including removal of felled trees from ACP construction sites.
The cancellation of the fracked-gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline would not have happened without brave, dedicated community members, including you, and we look forward to sharing this story of celebration throughout 2023.