Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mountain Justice Comes to Mason

Next Monday, October 25th, the GMU Environmental Action Group (EAG) and Mason’s Office of Sustainability will be hosting Tricia Shapiro, author of the just-published book "Mountain Justice: Homegrown Resistance to Mountaintop Removal, For the Future of Us All" at Mason. Tricia Shapiro has been covering anti-mountaintop removal activism as an “embedded freelance writer” since 2004. Her discussion will be in Meeting Room B of the Johnson Center at 7:30 p.m.

This event, which is sponsored by Campus Progress, is part of Mason students’ active campaign to help abolish mountaintop removal. Their actions previous include raising awareness about the issue on campus, testifying at a recent EPA hearing on coal-ash disposal, lobbying at the state capital in Richmond, attending Appalachia Rising in Washington D.C., and participating in civil disobedience at the White House and at the EPA Headquarters. This weekend the EAG will be attending the 2010 Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia which, according to event planners “will build on the momentum of Appalachia Rising”.

Jason Von Kundra, co-chair of Mason's Environmental Action Group hopes this event will lead to more than increased awareness, "helping to end mountaintop removal has been one of our priorities for a long time and we are gaining momentum. I'm hoping that people come to this event get inspired to take action. As students, we have tremendous potential to make change," he concluded, "as more people at Mason learn about the issue, they inevitably feel compelled to do something about it."

Don Vanstory, a senior at Mason, has attended previous EAG events focused on mountaintop removal including the film screening of Coal Country. Don believes mountaintop removal is an example of “corporate elite’s greed triumphing the concerns of Appalachian residents”. Don admits he doesn’t know a lot about the topic but hopes the Tricia Shapiro event will teach him more about the issue.

Ms. Shapiro will be leading a free discussion on mountaintop removal, which is open to the public, describing the experiences of Appalachian residents living in communities effected by mountaintop removal, and recent efforts to end the devastating form of strip-mining including Appalachian Rising and Mountain Justice Fall Summit. She will also discuss her experiences with the Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero organizations while writing the book.

While Ms. Shapiro has been active in the fight to abolish mountaintop removal, her new book focuses on the accounts of other participants rather than her own experiences. According to Steve Fisher, editor of Fighting Back in Appalachia: Traditions of Resistance and Change, “Shapiro allows the participants in this battle to speak for themselves about their motivations, hopes, and fears. And it is from these voices that we come to understand that their fight is our fight too.”

Colin Bennett, Mason's Sustainability Outreach Coordinator is thrilled that Ms. Shapiro will be speaking at Mason, "mountaintop removal is an issue of growing concern among the Mason community, especially Mason students. Everyday more people are realizing exactly where much of our electricity comes from- coal obtained by blowing up mountains which destroys communities throughout Appalachia, including right here in Virginia. Having Ms. Shapiro at Mason, a person so obviously knowledgeable about mountaintop removal, will certainly raise awareness about the issue.”

The book, Mountain Justice, is available from Amazon....

No comments: