Visiting Kayford Mountain

Summer of Solutions Hartford

(These images are in a “gallery” format, so if you click on them, you can see them full size)

During the annual Grand Aspirations August Gathering in West Virginia, we went on a tour of Kayford Mountain with the Keepers of the Mountain Foundation. Started by Larry Gibson to protect the mountains and stop mountaintop removal, the foundation and Larry’s family look after a 50 acre piece of land that is surrounded by 7,500 acres of mountaintop removal sites. Larry was offered millions for his property, but refused to give it up. This gift, and his lifelong dedication to stopping MTR has provided the public a rare access point to see the destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining.

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(Panorama by Joe Gorman)

 If you are unfamiliar with the process of mountaintop removal mining (or MTR), it is a particularly destructive and hazardous type of strip mining, where the tops of…

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Location: Virginia

Just down 58, southwest of our humble Appalachia, is a small mountain community named Eagan. Home to dear friends like Vickie, Sam and Carol, Eagan boasts an amazing community center called the Clearfork Community Institute (CCI), where magical events bring the community together, even amidst local turmoil and the sometimes harsh realities of living in the mountains.

CCI and members of the community have started a new initiative called ACE: Appalachian Community Economics, out of an interest in pursuing creative ways to build an inter-generational local economy that doesn’t rely on coal or coal profits. Continue reading

Hot Dogs and the Collapse of Monoeconomies

One of Build it Up West Virginia’s program coordinators says it best when he describes community development in West Virginia: “I eat more hot dogs than any other vegetarian I know.”  Some of the things that make organizing in central Appalachia so special are also what makes it so frustrating.  The above quote from Joe references the fact that much of what you do here is centered around food.  Church dinners, little old ladies inviting you in for cookies and tea, going to do a presentation in a school and being “treated” to school lunch- it’s all building community through FOOD.  And if you are a vegetarian, then just prepare yourself emotionally to get used to the taste of a slaw and chili hot dog- to not eat this delicacy is considered blasphemy and will get you tossed out of a community meeting faster than anything else.

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