Three Great New Short Films

During and after the Heartwood Forest Council / Summit for the Mountains gathering, three short films were made for by Rebecca MacNeice. Check out all three films at

The films are:

Pennies of Promise

Pennies of Promise is a newly formed citizen action group in West Virginia. On Tuesday, May 30, the group launched a national campaign at the foot of the State Capitol to raise awareness for the Marsh Fork Elementary School in Sundial, West Virginia. The school children are dealing with a host of medical issues they believe are connected to the recently constructed coal silo, which sits 150 feet away from the school, and the toxic slurry pond, which is approximately 300 feet away from the school. Retired school teacher Mary Porter brought $400 dollars in pennies collected from school children in Harlem as a donation to the state of West Virginia to aid in the construction of a school in another location.

Almost Level, West Virginia

As the destruction of America’s Appalachian Range accelerates in the mad rush for cheap energy, activist Doris “Granny D” Haddock and former congressman Ken Hechler act as our tour guides as we fly over regions of mind-boggling devastation. Truthout filmmaker Rebecca MacNeice is aboard a SouthWings flight. SouthWings provides fly-overs of mountain top removal sites to promote conservation through aviation.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Larry Gibson’s family roots on West Virginia’s Kayford Mountain go back to the 1700s. In 1906, after being swindled by a land company representing coal mine owners (as happened to countless other mountaineers), his family found itself with only 50 acres of its original 500. Now, Gibson hangs onto his mountain and observes family traditions, despite the disappearance of landscape all around him – the result of total environmental destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining. Keeping to family and Appalachian traditions of annually visiting the family graveyard, Gibson this year took other locals, environmental activists and journalists along with him.

MJS Camp

For a second year running, MJS Training Camp was both fun and productive. We had a variety of workshops ranging from the Appalachian culture to backwoods camping skills. We learned about similar struggles happening all over the world. From Appalachia to Arizona and down to Venezuela, the extractive industry is focused on nothing but profit at the expense of the people and environment. We learned about water testing and the legal issues surrounding mountaintop removal coal mining. There was much talk of community organizing and even more talk of strategy and tactics in the fight against MTR. Somehow we found the time to squeeze in a game or two of ultimate frisbee and three delicious meals a day.

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make this camp happen. It looks like it’s going to be another great summer and we hope everyone can join us in some way. It’s never too late to get active in MJS.

And Finally, A big thanks to The Appalachian South Folklife Center for letting us use their fantastic facilities at a bargain price. Check them out at

Pennies of Promise

Marsh Fork Elementary School

Marsh Fork Elementary sits less than 300 feet from an active coal loading silo and 400 yards from a sludge dam with a 2.8 billion gallon capacity that the Mine Safety and Health Administration says is improperly constructed and leaking.

Over the past several years, community members have been trying to get a new school built for the kids in their community. Last summer Governor Joe Manchin met with community members and told them he would have tests done to see if the school was safe. He had an HVAC maintenance worker check out the school and as soon as the story fell from the headlines, deemed the school safe, without any scientific study, only a check on the ventilation system of the school. An independent analysis of the school was done over the winter and of the seven samples of dust taken, all seven contained coal dust.

Pennies of Promise

Since the Governor won’t act, the residents of the Coal River Valley have taken up the fundraising cause. They are raising the funds needed to buy the land in their community and build a new, safe school in their community.

See the video of the press conference launch and meeting with the Governor here.

Other articles about the launch:

Marsh Fork Parents Ask Manchin for Help

State Journal

Coalfield residents launch fundraising campaign for new school

Associated Press

Visit Pennies of Promise at:

Heartwood Forest Council and Summit for the Mountains

Memorial Day Weekend

May 26-29, 2006


Healing Mountains

The 16th annual Heartwood Forest Council
and the 6th annual Summit for the Mountains

Cedar Lakes Conference Center, Ripley, WV

(38 miles north of Charleston)

With programs on Forests, Mountains, and Coal: the connections between them; their impact on air, water, and climate; their role in our history, economy, and culture; with a special focus on ending the devastation of Mountaintop Removal coal mining.

Invited and confirmed speakers include:

Granny D*, Cynthia McKinney, David Orr*, Jack Spadaro*, Woody Harrelson, Judy Bonds, Maria Gunnoe*, Larry Gibson*, Willie Nelson, Bobbie Ann Mason, Erik Reece, Ed Wiley, and more.


Details & registration coming soon.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What is the Heartwood Forest Council?

Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 16 years, Heartwood has invited those who care about the health and well-being of our nation’s forests to gather together to learn, to organize and to make plans. The Forest Council is an energizing gathering in a beautiful setting, featuring inspiring speakers, workshops, field-trips, and strategy sessions. But that’s not all! The Heartwood Forest Council is also a time of joyful celebration, with great music, amazing food, bonfires, hikes, dancing and rejuvenation!

To learn more about Heartwood, visit us at

What is the Summit for the Mountains?

For the past six years, coal field residents, activists, and organizations working to stop the devastation of Mountaintop Removal coal mining have gathered to share stories, find inspiration and empowerment, and develop coordinated strategies for protecting their homes, their communities, and the mountains of Appalachia, and to challenge the entrenched power of “King Coal.”

This year the organizers welcome activists from other regions and organizations working on other issues to join them in this epic undertaking to preserve our heritage, protect our air, forests, and rivers, and to heal the mountains that sustain us.

To learn more about Mountaintop Removal coal mining, please visit

To learn more about the Forest Council/Summit, or to help with planning, please contact:

Andy Mahler and[email protected] 812.723.2430
Janet Keating [email protected] 304.522.0246
Tonya Adkins [email protected] 304.522.0246

Tell everyone you know!

We welcome your suggestions for program components or additional speakers and invite your participation in event planning.

Work exchange will be available.

Download the Brochure
(it’s a PDF!)

Beyond Coal: Building Healthy Communities in Appalachia

April 28: 4pm-7pm

April 29: 9am-8pm

Hindman Settlement School, Hindman, Kentucky

View schedule


Sometime in the near future the Appalachian economy will face an end to the era of coal. Just as with oil and natural gas, experts now predict a “peak” for coal production in the foreseeable future. This conference seeks to discuss the challenges facing Appalachians as economies based on coal transition in the future. We seek to answer the question: What does Appalachia do after coal?

Join us for an engaging lineup of speakers, workshops, and discussions. Topics will include small business development, sustainable forestry, state and federal funding programs, organic farming, lean manufacturing, and more. Everyone is welcome.

Please contact:

Brandon Absher [email protected] 859-699-8698
Patty Draus [email protected] 859-299-5669

Please register. Sliding Scale Registration Fee $10-$20 which covers all conference programs and meals. Housing is available on the premises at low cost. Scholarships are available for anyone living in coal-producing counties.

**Convenient location, easy drive, just 1-2 miles off route 80 in
Hindman, Ky**

View the brochure!

(it’s a PDF)


Friday, April 28

Arrival/check in
4:00pm Intro/Welcome: Judy Bonds
Coal River Mountain Watch & Goldman Environmental Prize recipient
4:30pm Speaker: Joe DePriest
Director of Economic Development, Letcher County, KY
5:15pm Speakers: Berea College Sustainable Communities
6:30pm Dinner

Saturday, April 29

8:00am Breakfast
9:00am Panel: Starting a Small Business
ACEnet– Appalachian Center for Economic Networks

MACED– Mountain Association for Community
Economic Development
Wildflowers by LouAnne
Harry Robie of Robie & Robie Fine Books
10:30am Breakout sessions (choose one):
Ecotourism: Fr. Al Fritsch, coauthor of Ecotourism in Appalachia: Marketing the Mountains
Lean Systems Application: Stabilizing existing businesses, attracting new ones, and providing catalysts for local entrepreneurship in Appalachia.
ARC Grants: Funding opportunities with the Appalachian Regional Commission
12:30pm Lunch
1:30pm Panel: Sustainable Land-use
Appalachian Sustainable Development
Community Farm Alliance
MACED- Mountain Association for Community
Economic Development
3:30pm Discussion/Synthesis (small groups)
4:30pm Break
6:00pm Dinner
7:00pm Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Richard Couto
Antioch College

Author of Making Democracy Work Better

Click here to Register

Coal Field Residents to Participate in United Nations Meeting

This May, The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development will
meet in New York to discuss international energy strategy.

As most government officials continue to ignore the atrocities of
mountain top removal, coal sludge impoundments, and underground
injections of sludge, it is up to the people to let the world know the
harsh realities of an economy built on seemingly cheap electricity.
The United Nations needs to know that we cannot have sustainable
communities without the mountains on which we rely for clean water,
clean air, our health, and the health of our children. It is the people
of Appalachian coal mining communities who are most immediately paying
the true costs of coal, and so…

The first Coal Field Delegation to the United Nations will be attending
the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. A group of ten inspiring
coal field residents are prepared to take the truth to the UN, but we
need your support if we are going to make it. Please help us raise the
$7,000 we need to get to New York this May and ensure that the
international debate on sustainable energy development includes the
voice of the people. We are half-way to our goal.

Learn about some of the delegates

Donetta Blankenship lives in Rawl, WV. This past year she learned her
water was laden with heavy metals. Many in her community have skin
rashes, boils, kidney problems, and liver problems that have linked to
environmental toxic poisoning. Donetta herself was diagnosed recently
with an auto immune disease of the liver and her children stay sick with
breathing problems and skin rashes. Donetta and her neighbors believe
the sickness in their community has been caused by coal sludge injected
underground that has made its way into their groundwater.

Larry Gibson’s home used to be one of the lowest lying ridge points of
Kayford Mountain in WV. His family has been there for over 200 years.
Today, his meager fifty acres sits hundreds of feet above the 7,538
acres that has already been flattened around him by mountaintop removal.
Looking out, you would see a moonscape where a mountain once stood.
Larry has toured the country urging people to help stop MTR. He founded
Stanley Family Heirs in 1992 to protect the remaining piece of the

Pam Maggard teaches special education to children in Perry County, KY.
She got involved in organizing her community with Kentuckians for the
Commonwealth because of the over loaded coal trucks taking over the
local roads. The injustice in the coal fields has been affecting her
family since the 1970s when a coal company pushed her grandparents out
of their homeplace. “I’m not against coal mining,” said Pam, “but there
has got to be a way to do it better and safer.”

Maria Gunnoe lives in Bob Whites in Boone County, WV. Since the mountain
behind her house was torn down, her children sleep with their clothes on
when it rains, afraid the mountain is going to come down on them; they
have been flooded five times since the year 2000. What were once clean
streams now flow around her house with toxic run-off from the mountain
top removal sites.

Support the Delegation

Please support these residents and all people most immediately impacted
by the true costs of coal. Make checks payable to The Appalachian
Coalition for Just and Sustainable Communities, and send to PO Box 161
Whitesburg, KY 41858, or contact Patricia Feeney at 606-632-0051,
[email protected]
Thank you.

2006 Student Renewable Energy Conference

Hey Everybody, there’s going to be a great conference on renewable energy and campus organizing April 7th and 8th in Knoxville, TN.

There’s going to be trips to see windmills, presentations on mountaintop removal, green energy, and successful campus campaigns. There will also be food and breakout sessions for states and campuses to stratagize and come away with a plan and the energy to implement it.

check out the trailor:



For more information and to register go to:

Black Diamonds, Virginia Premier, April 12

The Virginia Premier of Black Diamonds will be in Litton-Reeves 1870 on the Virginia Tech Campus, April 12.

Film Showing — 7:00 pm

Black Diamonds charts the escalating drama in Appalachia over the alarming increase in large mountaintop coal mines. These mammoth operations have covered 1200 miles of headwater streams with mining waste; demolished thousands of acres of hardwood forest; and flattened hundred of Appalachian mountain peaks. Citizen testimony and visual documentation interwoven with the perspectives of government officials, activists, and scientists create a riveting portrait of an American region fighting for its life–caught between the grinding wheels of the national appetite for cheap energy and an enduring sense of Appalachian culture, pride, and natural beauty.

For more information –


contact [email protected]

Other upcoming shows:

Monday, May 8th

Wheeling, WV

Oglebay Institute’s Schrader

Environmental Education Center

Sunday, May 28th

Annual Forest Council/Summit for the Mountains

Ripley, WV

West Virginia Energy Gathering

One can\’t deny the mounting momentum of the anti-MTR movement over recent months. While the actions of groups like Coal River Mountain Watch and Katuah Earth First! have gained international media attention and the Mountain Justice Summer campaign has drawn massive volunteer participation from all across the country, young people right here in West Virginia are now escalating their own participation in the movement for justice in Appalachia. A long-time staple of this movement, West Virginia\’s students have decided that it\’s high time the state\’s young people compound their political and visionary strengths, coordinate actions and campaigns beyond individual campuses and coalesce as one state-wide organization taking action to create a more just West Virginia.

While respective campuses have sustained and augmented energy justice and anti-MTR activism for some time, the first (but quite likely not last) West Virginia Energy Gathering (WVEG), held on the campus of Glenville State College on February 11th and 12th, marked a turning-point in the youth-led movement for a sustainable West Virginia. A combined effort of Mountain Justice, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and Climate Action, the WVEG was a huge success solidifying youths across the state and establishing a strong chapter of Climate Action’s growing network across the South-East. Altogether the WVEG drew some fifty+ participants, not only from West Virginia colleges, but also from the Glenville community, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky. Engaging workshops grounded in strategic approaches to making change such as community organizing, non-violent civil disobedience and on-campus clean energy campaigning, gathering-goers developed and discussed ideas for a collective approach to achieving goals large and small, local and regional. Also including a trip to Kayford Mountain to meet Larry Gibson, a passionate movement leader, and see firsthand how the sprawling MTR mine surrounding his home has ravaged what once was his own piece of \”almost heaven,\” a film about MTR made by high school students in Pennsylvania and a strategy session the weekend meeting was a holistic and inspiring event in which intelligent and emotional individuals took clear steps and committed to continue down the path towards Mountain Justice.

The common attitudes of all present were clear early on in the weekend. The first allotment of time, an “intro session” in which folks told not only who they were and where they were from but why it was they had come to the WVEG, revealed a collective eagerness to invest more than just a weekend in this struggle. One participant, Bobby Mitchell from Charleston and WVU, stated poignantly that he’s “watched the coal industry rape this state his whole life and time’s up!” Before the weekend was over, the group had subdivided into three working-groups: clean energy, support for Coal River Mountain Watch’s Marsh Fork Elementary campaign and coordinated action. Consenting on action-oriented campaigning, support for local coalfield groups and an emphasis on Appalachian heritage, West Virginia’s newly yet firmly-established chapter of Climate Action is on the ground running – working to create a positive, just and sustainable future in the Mountain State.