Apr 272011

By Joan Braune

Mountaintop removal has led to poisoned drinking water, deadly avalanches, and unemployment in Appalachian communities. The recurring blasts shake homes, destroy graveyards and other important sites, and irreparably flatten the beautiful mountains and forests, some of the oldest in the world. Residents of the region are often left feeling as though they are living in a war zone. In a constant drive for profit, coal companies treat coalfield residents as collateral damage, “externalities” that do not need to be taken into account. Continue reading »

Apr 132011

Last week, Rick Handshoe of Floyd County talked with Governor Steve Beshear about the acid mine drainage in the settlement pond above his home. Handshoe was one of the Appalachia Rising activists who occupied the governor’s Frankfort offices over Valentine’s Day weekend in an act of civil disobedience. As part of the conditions for leaving his office, the Appalachia Rising activists made Beshear promise to visit Eastern Kentucky in the spring and talk with people living around the region’s coal mining sites.  Continue reading »

Feb 162011

A new era: Appalachia rises

By Danny Mayer

The banner headline Saturday morning in the Herald-Leader read “Egyptians welcome new era.” The accompanying photo appeared to be a close shot of photographer Hussein Malla’s hand flashing the Peace/Victory sign as he looked down on a celebratory crowd at Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The  lead line to the lead story noted that the revolt against dictator president Hosni Mubarak was “led by the young people of Egypt.” Inside the paper, journalists expressed concern for Israel and pondered which Mideast country would fall next to people power. On TV, analysts wondered if democracy would jump the Atlantic, spread to Mexico and topple Felipe Calderon.

In Frankfort, Kentucky, at the capitol building, a group of between thirteen and twenty Kentucky residents woke up Saturday morning with stiff backs, having spent the previous night on the floor of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s outer office while staging an act of (semi-condoned) civil disobedience. Continue reading »

Oct 132010

By Joan Braune

On the weekend of September 25-7, I joined over two thousand people in Washington, DC for Appalachia Rising, a conference and march against mountaintop removal mining. The march paused in front the Environmental Protection Agency and PNC Bank, which helps to finance mountaintop removal, before concluding in front of the White House, where around one hundred activists were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience.Courtesy of Betsy Taylor

Appalachia Rising will likely prove to be a historically significant event, as this is the first time that a broad coalition of organizations, mostly based in Appalachia, came together to organize a large nationwide march against mountaintop removal. Continue reading »

Oct 132010

On getting arrested at Appalachia Rising

By Betsy Taylor

My arrest in front of the White House on September 27, during “Appalachia Rising,” was an odd mix of fear, discomfort and joy. Of course, It is the joy that is important to remember and cultivate – the great and simple happiness found in non-violent witness for clean water, good jobs, vibrant communities, beautiful mountains and ancient biodiversity in Appalachia.

But it was the physical fear that surprised me – the searing as plastic handcuffs dug into my skin, the panic with my arms pinioned painfully behind me, the unexpected claustrophobia as they strapped us into the paddy wagon with walls and air frighteningly close. Continue reading »