Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mason to Visit Appalachia

This weekend people from Mason will be joining other folks from the Capitol region on a trip to central Appalachia. Specifically they will be traveling to Kayford, West Virginia, in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields. The purpose of the trip is twofold: to learn about and see the devastation caused by mountaintop removal firsthand and to celebrate Appalachian culture that is under siege from it.

The plan is to travel west on Friday afternoon, stopping at the Little Grill Collective in Harrisonburg for dinner. From there, the group will head into West Virginia and camp on Friday night. Saturday morning they will tour mountaintop removal sites and hear stories from coalfield residents that have been directly impacted by it. Saturday afternoon and evening will be spent at the Changing of the Leaves Festival on Kayford Mountain. The event, hosted by well-known anti-mountaintop removal crusader Larry Gibson, promises live music, a potluck dinner, and new friendships.

According to the website for Keepers of the Mountains Foundation Larry’s family has been living on Kayford mountain since the 1700's. Coal companies began stripping the mountain in 1986 and Larry has been fighting for his land ever since. Mason’s Environmental Action Group has been active in the struggle against mountaintop removal, educating the Mason community about the

On Sunday morning the group will head back to suburbia but not before stopping at Virginia Safari Park for some fun with animals.

All-in-all, the weekend promises to be a great time for all that attend. Although this is not an official Mason trip, anyone interested in attending is encouraged to send an email to gmueag@gmail.com for more information or check out the Facebook event: Awesome Appalachia Weekend. For people that would like to learn more about mountaintop removal and how to join the fight against it but already have plans for this weekend, there is another, similar event on October 22nd through 24th also on Kayford Mountain: Mountain Justice Fall Summit. Mason will definitely have a presence at this event as well so be on the lookout for more information which will be coming soon.

See a video of Larry Gibson from the recent Voices of the Mountains conference (which was part of Appalachia Rising): 

Obama Does the Right Thing: Solar Power to Return to White House

EaEarly Tuesday morning news broke that solar power will be returning to the White House. According to the AP, the panels will provide both hot water and electricity for the most famous residence in the country. This is good news for environmentalists and clean energy advocates that have been pushing Obama to reinstall the solar panels that were put on the White House by Jimmy Carter and subsequently taken down by Reagan.

Last month, organizers led by environmental author and activist Bill McKibben (who spoke at this year’s Fall for the Book) brought one of the original panels that graced the White House roof some 30 years ago to Washington with the request that Obama led the way in creating a clean energy economy by reinstalling the panel. At the time, officials from the White House denied the request.

This news comes on the heels of an announcement made last week by the White House that, “a company called BrightSource plans to break ground this month on a new, revolutionary type of solar power plant [in California]. This will put about 1,000 people to work building the facility. And once completed, it will power up to 140,000 homes, making it the largest such plant in the world.” Obama takes credit for this step toward creating a clean energy economy claiming that his administration’s clean energy incentives made this project possible.

The AP reports that “the plans will be formally announced later Tuesday by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley and Energy Secretary Steven Chu."

See a video of the announcement: