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21 Responses

  1. Personal Failure
    Personal Failure August 20, 2009 at 11:55 am |

    Go Gunnoe!

  2. Terri
    Terri August 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm |

    But…but…jobs…cheap electricity…liberals…global cooling…head explode!

    Great piece, especially the final paragraph.

  3. sexgenderbody
    sexgenderbody August 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm |

    This is a great post. Please tell me that you’ve posted it at DailyKos, too!

  4. onthefrontlines
    onthefrontlines August 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm |

    The fight continues in Appalachia as people take their stand. There’s always room for more.

    Climate Ground Zero
    Mountain Justice

  5. There Used to Be a Mountain Here « The Czech

    [...] how about that. There is a post about MTR up on Feministe today. One woman takes on King Coal. And wins. today! Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Winter at Caples Lake wallpaper, Rolling [...]

  6. The Czech
    The Czech August 20, 2009 at 2:40 pm |

    That’s really weird. I just posted about MTR in West Virginia today too: There Used to Be a Mountain Here. I just traveled there and saw it with mine own eyes.

    I met with Larry Gibbons, whose story is somewhat similar to Gunnoe’s. His family has been on the land for 300 years. There used to be tall mountains all around his home, but now he is surrounded by desolate valleys due to king coal’s voracious MTR mining. He hasn’t won his battle yet, but just like Gunnoe he has been the target of death threats and has even been shot at from people hidden in the woods. They haven’t hit him, yet.

    Read more about Larry at Keeper of the Mountains.

  7. Andrew
    Andrew August 20, 2009 at 3:13 pm |

    Great piece, Joe! The coal thugs video is shocking and scary. Keepers of the Mountain showed amazing restraint by refusing to engage the miners. As Barney Frank would say, a conversation with them would be like trying to argue with a dining room table.

  8. The Czech
    The Czech August 20, 2009 at 3:13 pm |

    I think so! And I just watched the second video and realized it was of a confrontation on Larry’s mountain! He told me all about that incident.

    Let me know how I can view your Kentucky state blog.

    Down with MTR!

  9. Rored5
    Rored5 August 20, 2009 at 5:59 pm |

    I love this post. I see the Appalachian area as many second generation immigrants see their parents’ home countries. My grandparents moved here (Chicago) upon getting married but so much of my actual culture comes from that area. (language, family dynamics and structure)
    It breaks my heart to see so many of my relatives still stranded in a horrible cycle of poverty that has barely changed in the 60 years since my grandfather stopped working the mines (at age 15 when he enlisted in the Army – he also has black lung from it.)
    And, although it didn’t seem possible for the mining to get worse for those living there – it has. Many residents don’t even have their beautiful smokies anymore — and mom and dad don’t have to bring home coal dust anymore – the toxic sludge is in their front yard.

  10. chocolatepie
    chocolatepie August 21, 2009 at 10:18 am |

    MATEWAN: PART II. Except hopefully with a happier ending.

  11. j.d. parker
    j.d. parker August 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm |

    The drunk scabs sure are mouthy. I nociced they care about jobs, that would be theirs not ours. If it wasn’t for the U.M.W. They’d be payed five dollars an hour.Looks like these boys have forgot there raisin. Young men wake up and remember don’t be bought by Blankenship’s lies while He laughs at you in Virginia. wrote by 30 year UNION miner like my Daddy before me. GOD BLESS EVERYONE OF YOU ; This is just MY opinion!!

  12. ks
    ks August 21, 2009 at 7:12 pm |

    It’s awful. I grew up in southern WV (here, but a few years after) and lots of my family is still there. Every time I go home it gets worse–more bits of the landscape missing, you can’t drink the water, really bad flooding every spring that almost never used to happen, etc.

    And that load about jobs is just that, a total load of crap. Even with increased strip mining, there aren’t significantly more jobs to go around, and those that are there are hard to get. And with the decline of the UMW, even if you can get one of the precious strip mining jobs, it’s hard to keep it because any kind of complaint to the bosses gets you fired and you’re back working at Wal Mart.

  13. Weekend Reads « The Gender Blender Blog

    [...] one’s more of an uplifting story about a woman in a small West Virginian town, Maria Gunnoe, who took on the coal industry and was [...]

  14. Rachel
    Rachel August 22, 2009 at 3:30 pm |

    This is a great film about mountaintop removal, and what’s being done to try and fight it: http://www.blackdiamondsmovie.com/

    Highly recommended… focuses on community efforts to fight this sort of mining..

  15. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie August 23, 2009 at 8:56 am |

    know that much of Appalachia got a really bad rap during the 2008 election, and much of it deservingly so.

    I’m glad you inserted this caveat. Because we all know that Appalachians are ignorant hicks, but hey, here’s this one cool Appalachian Lady! Who opposes an industry that destroys her life and the lives of millions! So you can totes get behind this! Even though the news showed some idiots from Appalachia during the 2008 election!

    Thank goodness you only like good Appalachians like Gunnoe.

  16. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Link Farm, Replacement Tongue Edition

    [...] One woman takes on King Coal. And wins. [...]

  17. Genevieve
    Genevieve August 24, 2009 at 7:23 pm |

    I’m glad you inserted this caveat. Because we all know that Appalachians are ignorant hicks, but hey, here’s this one cool Appalachian Lady! Who opposes an industry that destroys her life and the lives of millions! So you can totes get behind this! Even though the news showed some idiots from Appalachia during the 2008 election!

    Thank goodness you only like good Appalachians like Gunnoe.

    Yeah, Hattie, I noticed this as well–I’m not an Appalachian myself but in the past couple years I’ve been reading a lot about the region, and the vast majority of what I’ve read, as well as the people I’ve met, have disputed the common stereotype.

    The majority of this post was cool, and I like it whenever I see MTR addressed in a forum which isn’t specifically devoted to Appalachian issues, since a wider audience does need exposure to this if anything’s ever going to change. This part, however, rubbed me the wrong way.

    And if anyone here wants to know more, the novel Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake is excellent (Ms. Pancake is actually the sister of the woman who made Black Diamonds and one of my heroes); as is the book Something’s Rising by Silas House and Jason Howard and the anthology Missing Mountains. And if everyone’s in the Northeast Ohio area, the documentary Coal Country is coming to Akron on September 12th–tickets are free.

  18. Genevieve
    Genevieve August 25, 2009 at 12:11 am |

    You know, I’m not denying that there is racism in Appalachia. But there is racism everywhere in our country, some people just know to hide it and sweep it under the rug when strangers are around.

    I suppose you could say I am sensitive to this issue because I’ve seen people use the “oh, they’re bigoted” statement to then justify a “who cares about them?” viewpoint, and I do in fact care about them. Considering that you seem to care about ending MTR, I know that you care as well.

    But I do think that the media often grabs onto images of poor rural people as bigoted–they’re essentially powerless, after all, so demonizing them on TV won’t hurt the media people at all–while ignoring similarly bigoted views expressed in wealthy northern and coastal cities and suburbs. My grandmother grew up in Wisconsin, never lived in Appalachia or the south, and currently lives in California, and while she didn’t use the n word she did say that she didn’t want Obama to be president because she didn’t want “little black kids running all over the White House.”

  19. Jix
    Jix August 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm |

    Let me just say first that I agree with Joe.

    My roots (along with my entire family) are in eastern Kentucky.

    The coal thing: coal has been a dying industry in this area for about 60-70 years, in my estimation. Big Coal alone has kept the mining industry going, turning mountains inside-out looking for more sources of the mineral. The only benefits reaped by citizens are a ravaged landscape and a guaranteed job at the mine.

    The racism thing: if you look at a recent census, the demographics are probably something like 97-98% white, with 2% or less black, Hispanic, or other. It wasn’t always like that–at least by 1948 there were enough black people in the area to have a segregated school (I assume it was either a high school or 6-12). I don’t think this explains the racism that exists now, but if a white person never meets a non-white person, their bigotry probably isn’t going away easily. My graduating class, for example, was all white except for a couple of exchange students from Japan and Colombia. I didn’t know any black people until I went to college.

    The area has its faults, and there is nothing wrong with being honest about that. The people I know do the very best they can against these terrible odds, and for that I am proud to be a part of that culture.

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