Day 1 (15)
I went to a Holiness church today because they started the Pentecostal movement and today is Pentecost! The preacher didn’t really have a message and didn’t talk about the Pentecost, so that was disappointing. I was making baked beans for a potluck tonight, but they didn’t finish in time. That’s the last time I use a Crockpot to cook baked beans: bad idea. The potluck was fun: it was with the Mountain Justice group. We work with them a lot as it is the same cause (to end mountaintop removal/ strip mining). They are getting ready for a court hearing tomorrow because most of them got arrested at an action last week. Some chained themselves to the mining equipment (trespassing and other things), some paddled out the sludge pond and put a sign out there (they got arrested for littering in a sludge pond and trespassing), and others got arrested (the worst arrest: a couple days in jail with 2000 cash bail each while the others pretty much walked away) for simply trespassing. We raised a bunch of money to get them all out of jail.
Day 2 (16)
I did a lot of gardening today: tilled and dug a bunch of holes. I created an information collection card today for people to write their information on for us.
Day 3 (17)
I went to Charleston today to help pick-up a volunteer (Sarah). Sarah had a friend at the local Presbyterian Church (Bill Rainey’s church). We informed him about how MTR connects with the faith, the reality of what is going on, and what the opposition has been up to. It was a nice connection to make. Sage and I went to a meeting for the Plateau Action Network (PAN) and made connections for water testing in the following weeks. PAN recently hired a VISTA worker to do water testing in streams running off from local mine sites. We also needed to do testing, but don’t have equipment, so we are making it a group effort to show how MTR is destroying the local watershed. I also made a brochure today for Christians for the Mountains that we hope to hand out with the information collection card I made yesterday at the Icthus Christian Music festival coming up next week in Kentucky. On a more entertaining note: the tent we were drying out blew away in the storm (it was found and is fine). I guess I forgot to put the stakes back in when I drained the water from the last storms :D .
Day 4 (18)
Put a few screens up today and helped build a bookshelf. A woman I met at camp called today. The DEP approved a permit for 100ft near rt11. This is right near her house, where she grew up, and where her parents live. We’re going to write letters to the DEP for the 30 day comment period. We’re going to get others who have or are experiencing the effects and after effects of mountaintop removal to talk with the locals near rt11. They don’t really understand exactly what this means; they don’t understand that their health, children, property, loved ones, neighbors, air, water, and lives are in danger. Hopefully they will be motivated enough to write letters of their own to the DEP. So far, 6 cemeteries have been located along the new mining area: this is typically helpful.
Day 5 (19)
Put up more screens today. They’re hard to do because we don’t have a staple gun, but we just got one tonight. I helped build a bed, put the books on the shelf in the library, sorted the recycling: basic stuff. All of this tedious stuff is to get ready for a whole slew of guests and so that it’s all done before water testing, site visits, festivals, and such start happening.
Day 6 (20)
More people came today! They were lots of fun. They volunteer at this food center in Virginia that makes three meals a day for whoever wants it: rich or poor. Super cool.
Day 7 (21)
Today we got a lot of the gardening done. We spread manure, planted the tomatoes in the first garden and started making rows and planted some herbs and seeds in the second garden. The comfrey was harvested, so we can say goodbye to bad woman’s health. We went up to Kayford Mountain, or once-was-Kayford Mountain, ran across some eco-justice folks from Chicago, and met up with our anarchist allies. Super tiring and energetic day.
Before mountaintop removal
After/during mountaintop removal. Sage (kind of my boss) said that four years ago you could walk out across from the height we were standing to the far edge. Before mtr started here, Kayford mountain was taller than all the mountains you see in the distance.
This is what they call reclamation: restoring the mountain to it's original form. The green you see is a spray on grass with glue and dyes that sticks to anything. You can see where the grass is already eroding because underneath is sand and rock. The contours are nothing like they used to be. Also, the Appalachian forests around West Virginia are "mixed mesophytic temperate rainforests" basically they are the most biodiverse lands in the western hemisphere outside of the tripical rainforest. Now, they are the least diverse.