By Kimber Ray
The collective voice of the world rises up — from the people of Appalachia’s hills and hollers, from the rich diversity of global communities, and from the air, water and land of Earth itself. The Catholic Committee of Appalachia and Jeannie Kirkhope, administrative director of the CCA, hope to gather this call for help — first from Appalachia, then expanding globally after this spring. Their project, the People’s Pastoral, will create a non-denominational document and art collection inviting inclusive dialogue and action.
“So often, people want to help, but they help the way they think people need help as opposed to what really needs to be done,” Kirkhope explains. “You don’t know what needs to be done until you ask people what they need.”
The People’s Pastoral will express stories of struggle from marginalized groups including the impoverished, the undocumented, the gay and transgender communities, those suffering from abuse and drug addiction, and people living on polluted lands.
CCA issued its first, traditional Pastoral Letters — those written by a bishop rather than the people themselves — in 1975 and 1995. The response was always strong. “People came out to commit their lives to serving the mountains,” Kirkhope recalls, and their work contributed to the evolution of organizations like Big Laurel Learning Center, a social and ecological justice community in Mingo County, W.Va.
Once the People’s Pastoral is published in 2015, creative expressions will include a production at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va. But the healing process, Kirkhope says, begins with listening. “Stories are a big part of it,” she adds. “Going over the struggles is an important part of getting over it, getting through it. When you know you’re being heard, it brings about a sense of hope.”
CCA invites you to help collect these stories — anyone can share their story online or host a listening session in their community. Add your voice at ccappal.org.
By Kimber Ray
Good news for Appalachia: this past January marked one of the coldest winters in nearly 20 years.
Consecutive warmer-than-average winters have allowed harmful insects — even those native to the region, such as southern pine beetles — to soar to outbreak levels. Just a few degrees below zero can prove deadly for the less hardy among these pests. Widespread mortality requires much lower temperatures: eight degrees below zero for the southern pine beetle, and 30 degrees below zero for the invasive emerald ash borer and hemlock woolly adelgid.
As of press deadline in late January, another below-zero cold snap is predicted. This could prune southern pine beetle populations, as well as winter ticks and even the kudzu plant. But Yong-Lak Park, an entomologist with West Virginia University, says it is too soon to evaluate the effect on dormant insects until they awaken in the spring.
While these lethal bug temperatures were the norm before the advance of climate change, researchers caution that this cold spell is only a brief improvement. Across the country, some insects will inevitably survive, but for now, many communities have been granted a temporary respite to plan alternative methods to address harmful and invasive insects.