Monday, May 28, 2012

Showing What's Been Taken

Standing Together
From Left to Right: Rebecca Park of Charleston, Jennifer Medina of Charleston,
Marilyn Mullens of Cool Ridge, Donna Branham of Lenore, Vicke Shelton of Oak 

Hill & Paula Swearengin of Glen White (all in WV) show what they've been forced
 to sacrifice (homes, health, mountains, and heritage) to Mountaintop Removal
Larry Gibson of Kayford and Maria Gunnoe of Bob White stand over
Paula Swearegin's sacrifice




"Peaceful protest started by women of Appalachia. Women unite by meeting at our state capitol wearing white and shaving our heads to represent the stripping of our heritage, our homes, our water and our land. Stand in solidarity with our mountains that have been stripped of their trees, plants and top soil and our people who are sick and dying because of the effects of MTR. What could be a greater sacrifice and more profound statement than for strong Appalachian women to give up their hair to represent what is being done to us." - Facebook Event

"The women of Appalachia have always been unified and determined. We are grandmothers, mothers, daughters & sisters! We have experienced suffering. We have dealt with black lung, cancer, birth defects, polluted water, & destruction. We are in morning. But, we are STRONG! Tomorrow the government and the coal industry will learn just how strong we are. They will see what happens when you poison our young and our loved ones. We are coal miners grand daughters, daughters, sisters & wives but we are MOTHERS! We are tired of begging for safe lucrative jobs and a safe environment that we are entitled in order to survive and be prosperous. Hey King Coal let me introduce you the the queens of Appalachia! Your pocketbooks may not hear us but the rest of the world will know what you're doing! We are taking back what has been unlawfully been taken from us! This is only the beginning! Women UNITE!!!!" - Paula Swearengin

"As the day approaches, I am overwhelmed with all the response and support we have received. We are Strong, Brave, and Powerful Appalachian Women. I am Proud to be a part of this Action. As I shave my head, I will be mourning for the mountains, for Mother Earth, for the depletion of clean, healthy water and air, and for the deteriorating Health of our People, and to all of the unjust acts that has been placed on the Appalachian People by irresponsible coal mining practices, and failure of the government to set and maintain proper regulations." - Donna Branham

"The shaving of the hair represents standing with our mountains that have been stripped of everything living on them. And in solidarity with our people, who are sick and dying and dead because of this practice.  I want it to be silent, because silence can be deafening. Silence is louder than words. We 've talked. We've talked and talked and talked, but it hasn't gotten us where we need to be with this issue." - Marilyn Mullens 

The Crowd Gatheres...



Vickie Shelton, with her fist in the air, is standing up and standing tall today!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Our First Quarterly Newsletter!

News From the Mountain...
The Mess They
Left Behind...
As many of our supporters are aware, there was yet another incident of violence and intimidation against our movement recently. April 22nd, vandals broke in to Larry and Carol Gibson’s cabin on Kayford Mountain. The destruction and theft was extensive. Park equipment was destroyed along with the solar panels which provide power to the cabin. Assorted antique personal items were also destroyed, and many others taken. The vandals left behind a tremendous mess, and image of one of the three perpetrators recovered from security footage.

We will not be deterred! Keeper’s founder Larry Gibson stated:

“This attack is not directly on Larry Gibson, the attack is about the issue at hand. It’s trying to stop people like Larry Gibson and others to fight back. It’s not really directed toward me, if it was the wouldn’t have destroyed my cabin, they would have just come at me. The fact is, they’re fighting the issue their way. We’re fight the issue our way, and we can’t do it without your help.

For those of you that knew about the break-in, and have already donated, thank you for your donations. They are well received.

Those of you that didn’t, and are finding out through this message. Remember we’re fighting to save Appalachia. It’s not mine alone. It’s yours too. You’re not making a donation to Larry Gibson, you making a donation to the issue. So we can fight. When they attack me, they attack you- that’s what they’ve done here.  You might not even know it, but you’ve been attacked because of what you believe in,  because you’re following the issue of mountaintop removal and coal.

So, those that still believe in what we’re doing as a team, help as much as you can. Stay with us on this. We appreciate you.”

It is with this spirit we move forward. We will not be bullied by those who seek to stop us through cowardice and intimidation. The investigation into these acts is ongoing. We continue to seek resources to clarify the images obtained from broken equipment, and to look for the stolen items at local pawn and trade shops in hopes of recovery. We thank you for your unwavering support, and hope you’ll continue to fight alongside us as we reclaim Appalachia for her people. 

Our favorite time of year has arrived…

It’s festival season once again! Keeper’s is looking forward to the rapidly approaching 2012 Festival Season.  As in previous years, we are working hard to make the three annual festivals a fun, safe, and satisfying experience for you our fellow Mountain Keepers.
June 30 – July 1, 2012 July 4th Festival
Join us on the mountain for a weekend of music, fellowship and fun. We kick off the weekend on Saturday with esteemed speakers, talented musical artists, good food, and lots of fun.  Tours of the mountain will be ongoing through the weekend at regular intervals. The music will last into the evening. The food will fill your bellies and the fellowship your spirit. Stay the night with us, rugged camping is available on site. Sunday morning we will offer a Sunday worship and gospel music for those who interested at the pavilion. And we will part Sunday afternoon looking forward to hosting you all again at the Labor Day Festival.
If you’d like to volunteer to help the weekend run smoothly, please contact Daniel Chiotos at 304-205-0920 for details.
Saturday, Sept 1st & Sunday, Sept 2nd, Labor Day Gospel Music Festival
See mountaintop removal and celebrate Appalachian culture with Larry Gibson and other inspiring mountainkeepers. Learn more at  www.mountainkeeper.org
Saturday, October 13th & Sunday, October 14th, Changing of the Leaves Festival
See mountaintop removal and celebrate Appalachian culture with Larry Gibson and other inspiring mountainkeepers. Learn more at  www.mountainkeeper.org


Upcoming Events



That's Right!
May 28, 2012 – Women United Against Mountaintop Removal – WV State Capitol (Steps on the Kanawha Blvd side) – 12:00 Noon


Come join the women of Appalachia as the stand strong with our mountains, and shave their heads in memory of the mountains, streams, ecosystems, and people destroyed at the hands of Mountaintop Removal.  Event Coordinator Marilyn Mullens describes the event as:


“Peaceful protest started by women of Appalachia. Women unite by meeting at our state capitol wearing white and shaving our heads to represent the stripping of our heritage, our homes, our water and our land. Stand in solidarity with our mountains that have been stripped of their trees, plants and top soil and our people who are sick and dying because of the effects of MTR. What could be a greater sacrifice and more profound statement than for strong Appalachian women to give up their hair to represent what is being done to us?”


Join Marilyn, and many others – including Keeper of the Mountain’s own Paula Swearingin, Donna Branham, and Jenne Medina – as they make a silent stand to save their history, culture, environment, and health. For more information contact Marilyn Mullens at 304-228-7814 or view the event page on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/events/129916637127304/


For local news coverage of the event Click Here


June 6, 2012 – Day of Action, Week in Washington – Washington DC

Join your fellow activists in Washington DC during this Day of Action on Capitol Hill during Alliance for Appalachia’s lobby week. People from WV, KY, TN and VA are targeting their representatives in Congress to call for national leadership, national policy, and an end to Mountaintop Removal and the sell-out practices Congress currently employ on these issues. Under the banner of Appalachia Rising, we will unite in a string of movements using a range of targets and tactics. View details at http://appalachiarising.org/dcaction/
Contact Andrew Munn for details on how to get involved! Anroumu@gmail.com, 814-571-1165

Get Involved…Take Action
Invite us to your campus or community Larry and our team of speakers are currently filling their schedules to get out an about spreading the word and inspiring action to stop Mountaintop Removal. Contact Danny Chiotos at danny@mountainkeeper.org to schedule your campus or community event today!
Tour Kayford Mountain – Tours of Kayford Mountain, and the first hand destruction of Mountaintop Removal Mining are available for your student or civic group. Come out and see for yourself while enjoying the beauty of the green island of Stanley Heirs Park in the midst of endless acres of MTR sites. Contact danny@mountainkeeper.org to arrange your tour today.

Keeper of the Mountains House Party Program Our house party program is a great way to grow the movement within your own community. Hosting is simple, effective and gratifying. You pick a date and place, we’ll send a speaker and do the rest.  Contact Jennifer@mountainkeeper.org to schedule your party today!

FUNdraisers "Bowling for the Mountains" is a great way to raise money to further the action and education Keepers provide while having a blast with your friends, colleagues, and /or classmates. Enjoy a night of bowling for a good cause. Local bowling alleys are typically happy to participate. Contact Jennifer@mountainkeeper.org and she’ll work with you and your local lanes to assure a fun, productive night for everyone!

Donate – To make a donation to Keeper of the Mountains visit our donation page at http://mountainkeeper.org or mail your check to:
                Keeper of the Mountains Foundation
                179 Summers Street
                Suite 234
                Charleston, WV 25311
Like us on Facebook! Keeper of the Mountains

A little something  for you…
We often come across posting within the industry. We thought we’d pass along the information to you.
NOW HIRING  Marketing Coordinator - Full Time

Carnegie Hall seeks a dynamic, energetic, and highly motivated person to fill the position of Marketing Coordinator. This position will promote and enhance public interest and participation in all arts and education programs. Bachelors' degree or equivalent work experience required. 1- 2 years experience in marketing, fundraising or public relations preferred. Position requires excellent communications skills, ability to write effective and persuasive copy for media promotions, correspondence and other materials.  Proficient computer skills required.

Closing date is June 1, 2012.

Mail cover letter, resume, references and salary requirements to: Cindy Lavender-Bowe, Development Director, Carnegie Hall, 105 Church Street, Lewisburg, WV 24901.  Materials also accepted electronically at  bowe@carnegiehallwv.org

Exploring Citizenship Educator Job Description
The Field Academy is an innovative high school academic program that travels throughout the country and uses the nation as our classroom. By traveling with a group of diverse students from around the United States and learning about the places through which we travel - both from and with the people we meet - the Field Academy seeks to change the way that people think about what education is and what education can be. Last summer, we ran a pilot trip to New England; this summer, we’re leading one to Appalachia.
The expedition is a 7-week program for twelve high school students from around the country. It will travel through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and D.C. As a whole, the program asks students to consider what it means to be a citizen, what communities are, and how one begins to learn about and understand a place. On this expedition, we will be focusing particularly on mountains, mining, and music in Appalachia. We will end in Washington, D.C. thinking specifically about how representation – political representation, artistic representation, historical representation, cultural representation – occurs in the nation’s capital. For more information on this program and our vision,
check out our website: www.fieldacademy.org.
The Dates
• June 20th-24th: Pre-Trip Orientation
• June 25th-August 7th: Field Expedition
• August 8th-August 10th: Trip Wrap-Up & Debrief
The Job
What will you do as an educator for Exploring Citizenship? Some days, you’ll backpack with students through the Smoky Mountains. Some days, you’ll facilitate discussions on citizenship, culture, and
leadership. Some days, you’ll arrange for students to do laundry at a local laundromat. (Some days, you’ll do all three.)
You will be leading and supporting a group of 10-15 teenagers (ages 15-18) from across the United States as they travel, live, and learn together. You will be working with three other leaders to create for
students a learning space that is engaging, emotionally safe, and challenging. And as you do, you will be building relationships rooted in respect and honest dialogue with the people that we meet and work with along the way.
You will be helping to teach courses in history, natural science, and arts and culture – and depending on your level of teaching experience, you may also be teaching your own subject area. Our weeks will be structured around class time in each of these subjects and interdisciplinary experiences that help us to learn within the places we visit.
You will also share responsibility for the everyday logistics of this expedition: everything from driving the van to trouble-shooting student concerns and shopping for food for the upcoming week.
Requirements & Desired Skill Set
Because we believe in making life and learning indistinguishable, we look for people who are passionate about the world, who want to know more about it and share their knowledge with others. Because we are a high school program, we look for people who love working with teenagers and who believe wholly in teenagers’ potential and capabilities. Because a major component of our school is travel, we look for people who respect difference, who are comfortable entering new places, who are able to learn from and with the people around them, and who are able to facilitate that experience for others. Because each of us plays many different roles in this organization, we look for people who are comfortable with flexibility, responsibility, leadership, and collaboration; we look for people who step up.
Candidates should have:
A current Wilderness First Responder certification (if you don’t currently possess this, but are willing to go through the certification between now and the trip’s start, that is fine);  Experience with and excitement about working with high-school students A fondness for (or at least, a genial tolerance of) terrible pop music and long van rides; Experience traveling and facilitating intercultural experiences for others; Wilderness experience (backpacking, camping, etc.); Demonstrated skill at and commitment to the development of strong learning communities; An approach to leadership that inspires others; The ability to be described consistently with the following adjectives: organized, flexible, creative, attentive to detail, responsible, and competent; A demonstrated ability to manage stressful situations; An excitement about taking pictures, making videos, and documenting experiences; A good sense of humor, an adventurous spirit, and a boundless curiosity about the world.
How to Apply
Send the following to the Field Academy (info@fieldacademy.org) by May 15th:
• A resume;
• A list of three references;
• Answers (at least half a page each) to the following questions:
$300/week for seven and a half weeks ($2,250 total).
General housing and food costs will be provided during the expedition and in the preparation and debrief times.
1. Why do you want to work at the Field Academy?
2. Tell us about something you are currently in the process of learning (or that you have recently learned).
3. What goals do you have for yourself over the next five years?
4. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know about you?
Questions?
If you have any questions or clarifications, or if you just want to talk to us to get a better sense of who we are and what we do, please call Claire: (203) 228-4801 or send us an email: info@fieldacademy.org

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Powerful Testimony" Given in New York State

Donna Branham stands with (from left to right) Paul Galley of RiverKeeper, Manna Jo Greene of Hudson River Clearwater, Wes Gillingham of Catskill MountainKeeper, Herself, Kathy Noland of Catskill MountainKeeper, and event planner Sue Rosenberg


On April 23rd at SUNY New Paltz over 120 people gathered at the Extreme Energy Forum, sponsored by Frack Free Catskills, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clearwater and SUNY NYPIRG to learn about the impacts and consequences which the "extreme energies" of mountaintop removal, fracking, nuclear power have on the the air, water and the communities in which they are extracted and used.

One of the major highlights of the evening was Donna Branham from the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation in West Virginia. Filmmaker Peter Bull, whose film Dirty Business-"Clean Coal" and the Battle for our Energy Future was screened that evening,  wrote: "Donna Branham's testimony from the front lines in West Virginia was very powerful indeed." Donna has deep family roots in the extraction communities of Southern West Virginia - growing up in a coal mining town, her family were farmers and miners and her husband a retired underground miner.  Donna moved the audience as she first described the process of mountaintop removal mining where a mountain is clear cut; the extraordinarily rich and bio-diverse land is dumped into the valley and streams below and then the mountain is blasted and the seam of coal scooped out - leaving a scarred landscape and poisoned streams and waterways, flooding, toxic sludge behind. Water is poisoned and communities like the one she grew up in destroyed. She shared both her great love for the beauty of the mountains and the culture of WV and her outrage at the devastation caused by mountaintop removal mining and irresponsible mining practices and the power and greed of Big Coal.
 
 
Her gentle voice and her easy manner might initially be deceptive, but people quickly saw  the strength and determination of a fighter who has been organizing and fighting for land and her community for over 20 years, often at great peril to herself and her family. She brought an important message to this forum. She sees a great parallel between fracking for natural gas and surface mining and brings a warning to New Yorkers - don't sit by and wait until the gas companies take hold of NY and the destruction of air and water has begun.  The audience was clearly both moved and inspired by her presentation.

Earlier in the day Donna took part in an initial meeting to plan a "summit" of grassroots organizers working in the areas of coal, natural gas, nuclear power, tar sands etc. to find ways for our movements to learn from and support one another and find a common voice.

On Tuesday Donna spoke before a small but interested group of students who were taking part in an all day "Environmental Day" at SUNY Albany. Though most had heard of mountaintop removal coal mining, it was the first time that they were able to put a face and a personal story to the issue.
The forum was filmed and will air on the local public access TV stations in the area as will an interview with Donna in which she was able to talk both about the issues of strip mining and irresponsible coal mining practices in WV and her personal experiences as one who has been willing to stand up for her community and her mountains.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Help Us Catch This Burglar and Protect My Family's Land

This is Larry Gibson with the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation writing you an urgent message,
 


Recently, between April 23rd and 26th we had a break in at my place and it wasn’t a random break in. They did extensive, extensive damage; stole a bullet proof vest, guns; destroyed at least four cameras on the cabin plus damaged the security system itself, the solar panel and stole $750 worth of batteries that ran the system.
 
The enormous amount of stuff broken and stolen is too high to be put in this email. But what I’m asking you to do now is to:
 
video
 
 ---> View & Share This Video of one the burglars captured on our security system and please let us know if you recognize him so we can bring him to justice by emailing Larry.Gibson@Mountainkeeper.org and/or calling (304)542-1134.
 
---> Make a Donation to help us buy the equipment necessary to make my family's land on Kayford Mountain in Stanley Heirs Park a better protected, safer place for all of us
 
Bootprint left on a door
This attack is not directly on Larry Gibson, the attack is about the issue at hand. It’s trying to stop people like Larry Gibson and others to fight back. It’s not really directed toward me, if it was the wouldn’t have destroyed my cabin, they would have just come at me. The fact is, they’re fighting the issue their way. We’re fight the issue our way, and we can’t do it without your help.
 
For those of you that knew about the break-in, and have already donated, thank you for your donations. They are well received.
 
Those of you that didn’t, and are finding out through this message. Remember we’re fighting to save Appalachia. It’s not mine alone. It’s yours too. You’re not making a donation to Larry Gibson, you making a donation to the issue. So we can fight. When they attack me, they attack you- that’s what they’ve done here.  You might not even know it, but you’ve been attacked because of what you believe in,  because you’re following the issue of mountaintop removal and coal.
 
So, those that still believe in what we’re doing as a team, help as much as you can. Stay with us on this. We appreciate you.
 
Larry Gibson, Keeper of the Mountains
They went through the drawers
looking for things to steal 
They made a complete mess of
Carol & Larry's room looking for
things to steal