“They are blowing up my homeland,” said West Virginia coalfield resident Maria Gunnoe on Monday morning, in her sworn testimony on the i...
Mountain Heroes: My Story
"I know they need coal to make electricity. But at the same time, if they're doing all this with the sludge, going through the process of getting the coal ready for the electricity, and in the meantime killing people, we're not going to need the electricity, now are we?"
A cartoon, a jammin' new tune and some fine-art photography tell the story
A screen shot of Mark Fiori's site and mountaintop removal cartoon animation
Well, it's true that here on a blog, the currency is words. We're supposed to tell stories through our prose. But today I'm going to go easy on the blog and yield the storytelling to a small collection of witty, beautiful, foot-stomping and surreal art by people who are mastering other mediums to talk about mountaintop removal mining:
The first is a wicked little cartoon by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiori. Fiori, who The Wall Street Journal called “the undisputed guru of the form,” is a decorated political cartoonist and animator for The San Francisco Chronicle. His art has garnered a cult-like following; his website is a thing of internet beauty in and of itself, even without the potent 'toons. In this particular one, a new installment in his collection, a little green alien makes us earthlings look like buffoons for mountaintop removal mining. We've been saying the same thing here at Earthjustice for more than a decade, but this little guy has a special way of saying it.
The next piece of art to check out is this phenomenal song by the rockin' bluegrass band 2/3 Goat. The song, called "Stream of Conscience," begins softly and delicately, but soon picks up to become a bonafide foot-stomper featuring the booming vocals of Annalyse McCoy. The tune is downright catchy and ready for the repeat button even without the poetic and haunting lyrics, which obviously come from Annalyse's heart. Annalyse grew up in Inez, Kentucky, a town that earned its place on the map by being the tragic location of an historic toxic coal sludge spill. Annalyse was in high school when Massey Energy's impoundment of coal sludge broke in her beautiful Appalachian mountain hometown -- spilling 300 million gallons of a toxic brew of liquid coal biproduct. It flooded her community, streams and drinking water supplies. That was in 2000, and she says to this day they still don't drink the water.
Watch the video here:
"Stream of conscience, hear my cry: I don't want my hills to die ... How much would you give, sir, for this your mother's ground? I'd give my whole life, sir, I'd lay my body down ... Old faithful mountains, now you've taken them for free, and filled the hollers of the people of this land, poisoned our water, all at Old King Coal's demand." -- lyrics from "Stream of Conscience" by 2/3 Goat
And finally, here's a fine-art photographer who has done something extraordinary: J. Henry Fair has created stunning images of some of the most offensive and heartbreakingly ugly places on the planet -- mountaintop removal mining sites. The subject is hideous; the photos are somehow sublime. I'm sending you to the particular installment within his masterful section of work called "The Story of Coal" that just focuses on the extraction, or mining. These images are a series within his opus, the Industrial Scars project, which has been a constant work in progress for the last decade. I'd recommend spending some time flipping through on the images on this great website, or checking out his new book just hot off the presses.