Front Porch Blog

Mountain Monday: What is a Mountain Monday?

Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved.

A man defending his home is worth 10 invaders.

There is no place like home.

Home is home, be it ever so humble.

These phrases may have graced our ears 3,592 times, but ponderings on the meaning of home mean a little bit more to those of us in Appalachia these days. You see, in many ways, Appalachia isn’t what it used to be. We have lost more than 1 million acres of land, along with 1000+ of miles of our once pristine streams, and 90% of our traditional coal jobs to mountaintop removal mining. This barbaric practice has reduced much of our home to rubble, and further damaged our perennially struggling local economies. The jobs are gone. The people are leaving. The water is toxic. And they are blowing up the mountains themselves.

But the face of Appalachian resistance to “Big Coal” is changing. Not only are we seeing unprecedented national and international media like NPR, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal run with stories about the Appalachian people’s struggle to end mountaintop removal, but we are seeing 100s of online activists and bloggers participate in helping us spread the word through the iLoveMountains Bloggers Challenge.

Mountain Mondays will be a weekly celebration of our mountain home in Appalachia. It will be posted at 9AM every Monday morning at iLoveMountains.org and the Appalachian Voices Front Porch Blog, and cross-posted widely. These posts are intended to be simply a place to encourage activism and knowledge in regards to Appalachia. We also want people to be aware of mountaintop removal, and the growing movement to end the practice. There will be music, movies, images, and coffee. I hope you’ll all make it a regular Monday morning habit to check on the post, recommend it up, and offer your thoughts on home, mountains, energy, coal, or whatever suits you.

1) Featured Blogs for the week of June 31-July 7:
All you fledging hillbillies and nature-pickers better pick up the new copy of Blue Ridge Outdoors, which features several articles about mountaintop removal including “Clean Coal: Dont Try to Shovel That” from Jeff Biggers, and “The Faces of Mountaintop Removal,” which features some of the American’s working hard to protect their homes from mountaintop removal.

Cat-Chapin Bishop over at QuakerPagan offers us “Lifestyle Changes OR: How my Kitchen Sink and my Gall Bladder are Conspiring to Save the World“, recounting the analogous struggles and sacrifices for her own health and the health of our planet.

I am a typical American in so many ways. I battle a waistline that bulges as a result of my ready access to so many edible goodies. And I produce more than my share of carbon and other waste, as a result of my ready access to so many consumer goodies. Both my body and my carbon footprint suffer the effects of that American disease, affluenza.

I’m not especially good at battling either one.

Appalachian Voices and iLoveMountains.org were featured at Grist.org, as Kate Sheppard details the Bloggers Challenge campaign and Appalachian Voices’ efforts in Congress with “In the dumps: Mountain advocates and legislators take on mountaintop removal

the House, 142 legislators are backing the Clean Water Protection Act, which would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify that fill material cannot be comprised of waste. That would cut mining companies off from what’s become their free dumping ground.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), has gathered 141 co-sponsors since it was introduced in May 2007. The site ilovemountains.org is following the bill closely and has the resources to write your representative in support of the measure.

They’ve also got a neat interactive map where you can see your connection to MTR. And their most recent addition is a video series on the country’s most endangered mountains.

2) Mountaintop Removal Fact of the Week
The EPA expects mountaintop removal to double in the next 10 years if we do nothing to stop it.

3) Mountain Movie/Image of the Week
Virginia citizens working to defeat a coal-fired power plant in Wise County recently delivered a mile-long petition to Dominion Energy Shareholders and Governor Kaine. Dominion and Governor Kaine are going forward with the building of a new coal-fired power plant in Wise County, where 25% of all the land has already been destroyed by strip-mining and mountaintop removal

4) Featured Activist: Larry Gibson of Kayford Mountain, WV
Blue Ridge Outdoors profiles Larry here

There are 107 “Open for Business” road signs welcoming visitors as they enter West Virginia. Set against a backdrop of pristine Appalachian grandeur, the greeting is grotesquely appropriate: the mountains of West Virginia sit atop multiple seams of valuable low-sulfur coal. In order to extract the coal, mountaintops are dynamited and dumped in a process called mountaintop removal mining.

But before the blasting can begin, residents who find themselves in the direct path of mountaintop mining must first be bought out and displaced by the coal industry. Most of them fold under the industry pressure or accept the payoffs. Larry Gibson is one of the few who have refused to sell. Gibson has devoted his life to saving his 50-acre chunk of Appalachia, with its simple encampment of sheds, a log cabin, and a family cemetery dating back to the 1700s. Massey Energy wants him off of it.

Gibson managed to save his beloved parcel when he established it as land trust. His tiny green island is surrounded by 12,000 acres of biologically barren mining moonscape. In total, there are 187,000 endangered acres surrounding Gibson’s property, whether operating as active mountaintop removal sites or waiting in line for the dozer to see them next. But the 62-year-old Gibson, short in stature, with his third-grade education, refuses to give up the fight.

Check out the whole article

5) Mountain Music of the Week

The Carolina Chocolate Drops sing and dance their way through “Salty Dog”

Thats it for this week!
peace,
JW

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