Water Justice Summit

Mountain stream in Virginia. Photo courtesy of Brad Striebig.

June 1-2, 2018
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia

The Water Justice Summit is a leadership development, networking and skills-building gathering for folks in Appalachia and the Southeast whose water is threatened by fossil fuel industries, faulty public infrastructure and other concerns.

The keynote panel and art exhibit are open to the general public, but space is limited for the full itinerary of trainings.

Registration for the Water Justice Summit is now closed.

The Water Justice Summit is supported by community partners:
Appalachian Voices
Alliance for Appalachia
Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights
Young Appalachian Patriots
Stay Together Appalachian Youth

And also by Virginia Tech partners:
Institute for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention
Appalachian Studies Department
Perspective Gallery
Gloria D. Smith Professorship in Africana Studies
Institute for Policy and Governance

June 1

Mothers for Water Justice:
Keynote panel, FREE and open to the public.
7:00 – 9:30 p.m., Multi-purpose Room at Graduate Life Center at Virginia Tech.

Keynote speakers

Elise Keaton is a West Virginia lawyer and activist involved in fighting mountaintop removal coal mining and educating communities about the impacts of fracking and natural gas infrastructure. She served as the Executive Director of Keeper of the Mountains Foundation until 2013 when she transitioned to work on community education about the impacts of fracking and natural gas infrastructure.

Kwavol Hi’osik is an Akimel O’Odham mother residing in her ancestral homelands in so-called Arizona. She is involved in community organizing around food sovereignty and land and water defense in and near the Gila River Indian Community, and has had experiences with several indigenous resistance campaigns including the Dakota Access Pipeline battle.

Mary Cromer is an environmental justice attorney working for the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Inc., in Whitesburg, Ky., where she represents individuals in a variety of cases related to land owners’ rights issues and to the destruction of land and water from surface coal mining. Mary also represents groups facing environmental crises.



Reception for “What Color is Water”
FREE and open to the public.
Perspective Gallery in the Squires Student Center at Virginia Tech.
Reception from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Light refreshments will be available.
Kwavol Hi’osik will be speaking at the reception.

Learn more about this event!

June 2

Workshop Trainings
The trainings will focus on water monitoring, grassroots regulatory enforcement and community organizing. There will be two separate tracks of three classes led by summit organizers and partners, followed by a popular education workshop where attendees will share their knowledge in a collaborative session.

– Water Monitoring
There are many types of water monitoring. We hope to develop a training that is as widely useful as possible, but our expertise is in monitoring the impacts to surface and ground water from the coal and gas industries in our region, so this will be our primary focus. The training will include overviews of the Clean Water Act and other statutes, the use and maintenance of handheld conductivity and pH meters, protocols for collecting samples for laboratory heavy metals screening, safety and legal considerations for data collection in the field, and how to use your data in regulatory processes and litigation.

– Strategic Campaign Planning
Too often, communities are overwhelmed with simply reacting to threats, and are unable to pursue positive change in a proactive and sustained way. This training will discuss how to design an effective strategy covering prioritization of goals, targets, tactics, base-building, alliances and other considerations.

– Meeting Facilitation 101
In good meetings, all voices are heard and the group discovers the best possible consensus about how to move forward. In bad meetings, overbearing personalities dominate, crucial insights are overlooked or unspoken, and tangents derail focus and waste time. This training will provide tools and techniques to ensure that the meetings of community and activist organizations are constructive and efficient.

– Engaging the Media to Get Your Story Out
This training will cover how to write press advisories and releases, pitch stories and develop rapport with journalists, and utilize media outlets to lift up community perspectives.

– Grassroots Lobbying to Influence the People in Power
This training will provide an overview for how to set up and prepare for meetings with elected representatives, and how to effectively communicate with politicians and their staff to compel them to advocate for the needs and interests of your community.

– Grassroots Outreach to Build Your Base
Even in this digital age, face-to-face interaction is crucial to building the relationships that will grow your organization and build your power to make change. This training will discuss how to best engage, recruit and empower new activists through door-to-door outreach, tabling at events, and other methods.

– Google Drive, Social Media, and Smart Phones (or How to Make Those Frustrating Devices Work for You!)
To some, technology is second nature. To others, it presents a huge barrier to communication and productivity. This training aims to provide a basic orientation to the use of google drive and other smart phone apps that can open up whole worlds of communication, collaboration and activism for their users.

If you have any questions, please contact Willie Dodson at willie [at] appvoices.org, Ridge Graham at ridge [at] appvoices.org or Lara Mack at lara [at] appvoices.org