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January 2011
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Another p.o.v.: "Compromise valuable in mountaintop mining debate"

At issue | Various articles, columns and editorials on recent protests against mountaintop removal mining.

"How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing." Wendell Berry farmer, writer, activist, poet

...the poet must not avert his eyes" — Werner Herzog

Something about what is happening to the coal-bearing Appalachian Mountains is making me very angry.

Something about the title of Wendell Berry's essay "Compromise, Hell!" makes me very angry, too.


More on Frankfort Sit-in to End Mountaintop Removal Mining

Feb. 25, 2011 —     They went into the governor’s office on a Friday afternoon as concerned citizen-activists. They emerged the following Monday as “Kentucky Rising.”

    That’s the name of a group of citizens who are committed to ending the practice of surface mining better known by many as mountaintop removal. Morehead State University Professor John Hennen was among 14 persons who traveled to Frankfort on Feb. 11 and staged a three-day sit-in at Gov. Steve Beshear’s office.

    “We came out with an identity that we did not have going in,” Hennen said.


Of interest: "Sisters answer the call of the Earth"

Catholic sisters have long been associated with activism - from fighting poverty to promoting education and social justice. Today, sisters across the country are uniting around a new cause: healing the earth. Angela Evancie has the story of two women who have brought a version of "green" Catholicism to Vermont. Angela is contributing environmental reporting this year as part of a Compton Mentor Fellowship.


Of Interest: Hanover College hosts Jackson, Peters and others

From Field to Kitchen - Agriculture for the 21st Century
12:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Featuring talks by Alex Avery, Wes Jackson, Jason Peters and Mary Donnell.
Alex Avery is director of research and education with the Center for Global Food Issues at Hudson Institute.
Wes Jackson is the founder and current president of The Land Institute.  He established and served as chair of one of the United States' first environmental studies programs at California State University-Sacramento.
Jason Peters serves as professor of English at Augustana College (Ill.). He is one of the coordinators of the environmental studies program and a faculty advisor to the Augustana Local Agriculture Society (ALAS).


Wendell Berry interviewed on "Living on Earth: The Costs of Coal"

GELLERMAN: So why did you occupy the office of the Governor of Kentucky?

BERRY: Because the issue is very large and very urgent: that is, the destruction of the coalfields of eastern Kentucky, by surface mining at its most violent, which is to say - mountaintop removal.

GELLERMAN: Well, what did you want the Governor to do about it?

BERRY: You have to understand - our complaint is in the context of a virtual dead-silence for many years on the part of state government. We have done everything we could think of to get a hearing - without any effect whatsoever. So this was simply the next thing if we were going to continue our opposition to those mining practices.


An interview: "Sitting In with Wendell Berry to End Mountaintop Removal"

Midway through the historic sit-in, author Jeff Biggers—the grandson of a coal miner and a vocal critic of mountaintop removal—spoke to Wendell Berry about his goals for the sit-in and the importance of civil disobedience.

Jeff Biggers: Can you summarize what you’ve been doing here for the last several days?

Wendell Berry: What we’ve done is follow up on a visit we made to the governor’s office last May. On that visit, we talked to the governor and, in effect, it was to no effect. We didn’t cause any thought to happen. It was an unsatisfactory conversation. We didn’t really speak to each other; we didn’t really hear each other. We didn’t talk back and forth on the same question—as you have to do in a real conversation.


"Defending 'Foodies': A Rancher Takes a Bite out of B. R. Myers"

Myers's case for indicting the food movement with these cherry-picked quotes and stories is not only weak, it's ludicrous. Of course eating good food can be enjoyable, enormously so, and there's nothing wrong with that. Fred Kirschenmann, a farmer and philosopher who inspires many people who care about good food, has written about the joy of eating fresh, wholesome food as he experienced it growing up on a farm. "The pleasure of good eating was about much more than the taste of the food," he writes. "It was about a deep appreciation for—and connection with—everything on our plates." It's hard to find anything resembling reckless pursuit of physical pleasure in Kirschenmann's kind of eating.

Similarly, in The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry, another inspiring farmer-philosopher, writes that "growing one's own food is not drudgery at all." Working to produce the food oneself rather than having someone else engage in that toil makes eating it all the sweeter, he notes. "It is—in addition to being the appropriate fulfillment of a practical need—a sacrament, as eating is also, by which we enact and understand our oneness with the Creation, the conviviality of one body with all bodies." Would Myers also toss Berry onto his heap of gluttonous foodies?


Of interest: Gene Logsdon ponders "Heating With Wood Is An Eco-Crime?"

That’s what a recent (Jan. 20) article suggested in the New York Times. After a few more provocative captions like that and a liberal use of the subjunctive mood to convince us of the dangers of burning wood, the article simmered down to saying what most of us already know: if you use dry seasoned wood and a certified low-polluting heating system, burning wood is as safe as heating with anything, but perhaps not in areas of heavy population like New York City. It is questionable whether automobiles are appropriate technology for New York City either and many people there in fact do not own one. I wonder how the Times would be received if it voiced a notion that driving cars is an eco-crime.


Originally Posted HERE.

"Wendell Berry statement February 14, 2011"

Delivered at I LOVE MOUNTAINS DAY on behalf of those who spent the weekend in the capitol.

Several of us gathered at our governor’s office on Friday, determined to secure for the land and the people of the coal fields, and for the water drinkers downstream, the full attention, long delayed, of the Governor, of state government, and of our fellow citizens.  We came because the land, its forests, and its streams are being destroyed by the surface mining of coal, because the people are suffering intolerable harms to their homes, their health, and their communities, and because all the people downstream are threatened by the degradation and contamination of the rivers.

We have remained here until today because of desires that we know are shared by many thousands of the good people of our state and nation — desires that ought in reason and in justice to be shared by our elected representatives here in Frankfort: namely, that all of our home places should be healthy, that all of our headwater slopes should be safeguarded for us and our children forever by sustainably used and ever-cherished native forests, that every stream should run clear, that every child should breathe clean air, that the economy of every community should grow from the local soil and local resources, within the affection and care, by the skills, thrift, and intelligence of the local people.

The events of the past weekend have been widely noticed, have become “news,” carried evidently all over the nation.  Now we want to say to all of you, who are here in love for the mountains and in protest against their destruction, that we do not look upon these events as finished.  We do not think of what we have done as in any sense a symbolic gesture.  We are humbled, instead, by the realization that our effort cannot be carried to success by us, or by any other few of us.  If the adventure of the last few days, by this small company of friends, is to be more than a symbolic gesture, that can be only because all of you who are here, and many of our friends who are not here, will take it up, make it your adventure and your cause, until this great house will become the true home of justice to all the people of this state, and of faithful care for the divine gifts of land and water, and of life itself. 


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