Summers in Appalachia are the stuff of magic — shady woods adorned with rhododendron flowers, bubbling streams spilling into refreshing swimming holes, fields of wildflowers that grow more exuberant with every rainstorm. At night, the glitter of fireflies beckons us to linger on the front step and take a deep breath of the summer air.
Residents and visitors to the region alike understand these places as both sacred and fragile. We are connected to them through the sublimity of their beauty and — in the most starkly practical terms — how their well-being impacts ours and our actions impact them.
In some areas, decades-old pollution from abandoned mines contaminates waterways, while new pipeline projects — even as we fight to defeat them — clog other streams with runoff, erode mountainsides, and mar farmland our families depend on. Invasive species, buoyed by warming climates, are expanding their range. Even when invisible to the naked eye, air pollution poses risks to our health and to our planet’s atmospheric balance.
Knowing all this adds urgency to our quest for justice and environmental protection. It also reminds us to appreciate the diversity, strength and profound wonder of nature, both in the wilderness and in our backyards.
In these last months of summer, I hope you’ll make extra time to soak in the season — whether that means challenging your paddling skills on a new stretch of river, revisiting a favorite hike, or simply spending some extra time admiring the teeming life outside your window.
And if your time in nature inspires you, come join us. Stand with us as a member of Appalachian Voices by visiting appvoices.org/join, or sign up on our website to volunteer. This summer and fall, we are teaming up with partners in multiple states to host Energy Democracy Tour events, so visit energydemocracyyall.org to learn more and see if there is an event near you.
For our mountains,
P.S. Whether you are a longtime reader or are picking up the paper for the first time, we want to hear from you! Your feedback on our survey at appvoices.org/voice-survey will be carefully considered and deeply appreciated.