Monday, July 6, 2009

MTR Last Full Week Plus a Few Days

Our humble little house and the Kashi box I'm hiding behind.

Week 5

16 June
Day 3 (31)
I’ve been here for a month and have a half a month left! I used a really big table saw today to cut wood for garden posts. It took me a half hour to find the unlock button, figure out how to move the unlock button, and then find how to change the angle. It was interesting but successful. I put most of the posts in the garden, but stopped when I realized that we have to buy more. The rabbit is eating our cabbage, so it has to be soon. I did budget work today: I made a spreadsheet to outline our costs and who needs to be reimbursed and such. So far I have faced the nitty gritty details that make a group work and succeed and the big obvious things that we learn about in classes. Doing it all is much more fun than learning about it. I’m really glad I did this internship because it’s been an internship on life: specifically my life. I have not only learned what is necessary to run an action advocacy group (the obvious and the unseen details like bookkeeping), many life skills. I can build things comfortably (use the tools), I’ve designed a house, planned, prepared, and planted gardens, done yard work, learned how to keep weeds away, identified local plants and what they are good for, when to eat road kill and when to not, how to connect to opposing groups, how to talk with media (I forgot to mention I had an interview at one point for a Reader’s Digest magazine), how to avoid making angry miners more angry, how to shut down opposing groups using administrative resources (court appeals, site visits, comments on permits, and using illegal actions against the company), planning direct actions, cleaning up after direct actions (raising money to get people out of jail and plugging into the media), making screens for a house, how to reuse almost anything, how to make cleaning and hygiene products, how to make tinctures and use herbal medicines, how to email and connect to senators and representatives. It’s been so much! It’s been a big glimpse of my life. This is the work I will be doing, this is how I will have to live since I’m allergic to everything in the grocery store, and now I’ve learned how to do it all. The great thing about this internship is that it wasn’t an internship. I did everything everyone else was doing: it was like being submerged into the job. I was never overwhelmed though, because I had good training (thank you Nancy and Mountain Justice Summer Camp).

17 June
Day 4 (32)
Didn't do a whole lot today. There was hail! Downpour, thunder, and lightening. It was so thick that the mountain ridge – less than 1/4 mile away – disappeared! It was quite the sight. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Early church recently: the way Jesus instructed the Apostles to make church and the way they formed it until it got changed. It’s all about love. Nothing is more important than loving everyone, even your enemies, because Jesus loved everyone. I’m enjoying it a lot. There is a lobby week in DC in September for MTR: anyone interested?

18 June
Day 5 (33)
I got the rest of the garden posts today, so I can finish the garden fence sometime tomorrow. There’s a big protest next week that I’m really excited about. To prepare for it, a couple people from the Coal River action group climbed a dragline – these are gigantic, really, tall pieces of equipment that help to move the mountain. They are camping up there until the police go up to get them down. They didn’t quite finish hanging the banner against MTR. A miner there started having blood pressure and heart problems, so they charged to Coal River folks with battery! Completely ridiculous. We can only pray that, that one doesn’t pass in court. Logically it shouldn’t, but you wouldn’t believe some of the crazy stuff that goes on down here; most high officials are paid off by the coal companies.

20 June
Day 7 (35)
I finished the garden fence tonight: no more rabbits or deer. I spent the day volunteering for the local historical society at the fair. I met a lot of townsfolk and the mayor, so some good connections were made between them and the organization. The people are very into what we are doing and are trying to turn the area into a national park complex – this means the lands are protected but there are camping, hunting, fishing, and recreation areas. These connections are really important especially since Christians for the Mountains does a lot of community outreach, organizing, surveys, and health assistance. Funny story: I locked myself out of our houses, had to break into one to get water and find keys. I didn’t find keys so I called my friends that were hiking and hiked to go get keys to let myself in. It was concerning, however, because it was so easy for someone like me to break into the houses.

22 June
Day 2 (37)
The last garden rows for the coming moon cycle were made so that the corn and cucumbers could be planted tonight or tomorrow. The guests arrived: Sandra and Celie have been here before and are always a joy (Celie is seven). There were a couple folks from Appalachian Voices – a lobbying non-profit in DC for Appalachian environmental concerns. They came down for a big protest happening at Marshfork Elementary School against MTR tomorrow. Marshfork is an elementary school feet away from a Massey strip mine and down ‘stream’ from a sludge pond that leaks. If it breaks they die. Also, the stream smells horrid and the fish have scabs. Jim Hensen, Daryl Hannah, and Ken Heckler are supposed to be there to protests and get arrested.

23 June
Day 3 (38)
The protest was a success. Everyone who wanted to get arrested got arrested, which means great publicity on our part. Last time they wouldn’t arrest Ken Heckler because they knew it would be great publicity. A strip-miner’s wife got arrested for assaulting Goldman Environmental Prize winner Judy Bonds, who also got arrested for trespassing with the other protesters. Sandra, Celie, and I marched, but did not trespass. The press was all over the event and we are very excited for that. I have not heard anything about additional charges or bail rates. Last time the bail wash cash-only and way passed the legal maximum for trespassing crimes (2000 cash-bail only a piece). Those that scaled the dragline earlier in the week got charged with battery because a mine worker that tried to get them down started having heart problems. This movement is completely ridiculous at times. Those that support MTR and many of the law enforcement officers break the law and constitution on a daily basis. The miners break hundreds of regulations and get away with it even when it’s cited and the officers place ridiculous charges that either don’t make sense or is unlawful. However, there are great exceptions here and there. Some that got arrested at the last protest had wonderful luck. Those that trespassed by crossing the property line and those that trespassed onto the sludge damn by canoe and ‘littered’ with a banner on it got the really high charges and bails, but those that trespassed and locked themselves to the machinery at Kayford ‘Mountain’ got fed lunch and offered coffee by the miners and got let off on their own recognizance from the drunk on-call magistrate because he “likes squirrels.” They were fortunate enough to have just barely crossed the county line that the others got arrested in.

24 June
Day 4 (39)
My internship is pretty much done. I left West Virginia today with Sandra and Celie for Virginia. I’m staying with them to swim, peruse Lexington, and play for a couple days, then I’m staying in Harrisonburg to have a final meeting with my supervisor, go to the Early Church, a ‘soup kitchen’ that serves three meals a day to anyone with a bellybutton, then trying to get a ride back to West Virginia on the 1st to catch my flight.
It was good :D

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