Friday, January 21, 2011

We Visit Chapel Hill

Written by UNC-Chapel Hill student and event organizer Stewart Boss

North Carolina is the number one importer of mountaintop removal coal, but it’s a fact we easily forget. Despite our addiction to mountaintop removal coal, the irreversible damage and destruction it causes is often forgotten here because there’s no coal mining in our state.

Larry Gibson’s trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., and UNC this week was an inspirational reminder that we need to do something about what’s going on in West Virginia. Whether through our dirty electricity or our poisoned water systems, North Carolinians ARE connected to mountaintop removal. Larry was joined by Adam Hall, who is a U.S. Army veteran who has dedicated his life to combat surface mining and fight for what he calls: "The God-given right to drink clean water."

On Tuesday night, Larry and Adam joined the Sierra Student Coalition, the Institute for the Environment, the Parr Center for Ethics, CUAB, and the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity for a program on “Mountain Justice.” He candidly shared his personal experiences and Larry called on students, faculty and community members to get “mad as hell” and actively engaged in stopping the systematic destruction of his home.

Larry made it to several classes at UNC on Wednesday to keep spreading the word about how mountaintop removal has devastated his corner of West Virginia. That night, Liz Dowling-Sendor invited friends and family for a fundraiser party with some of the best brownies I’ve ever had and some fantastic cider. UNC professor and filmmaker Chad Stevens screened his powerful documentary “Leveling Appalachia,” setting the stage for a candid discussion with Adam and Larry about the rampant greed and corruption that has allowed the coal companies to take away our mountains and monopolize West Virginia’s economy.

“They told us that North Carolina would never survive without tobacco,” one lady said. “Well, here we are.”

An inspiring thought indeed. A big, warm thanks to Adam and Larry for bringing their stories down to Chapel Hill this week and adding fuel to our fire as we begin a new year.

Leveling Appalachia: