The writer and philosopher Wendell Berry, armed with little more than a copy of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and his conscience, has been camped out for three days with a handful of other activists in the governor’s outer office in Frankfort, Ky. Berry, who is 76 and the author of a number of important books including the “Unsettling of America” and “Life Is a Miracle,” has been sleeping on the floor of Gov. Steve Beshear’s reception area since Friday night with 13 others to protest the continued blasting of mountaintops in eastern Kentucky and the poisoning of watersheds, soil and air by coal companies.
“We’ve come, we’ve lobbied legislators,” he said when I reached him by phone this weekend. “As recently as last May we had an interview with the governor in his office. None of this has produced any effect. There are no changes in the attitudes of the government towards surface mining, and attention from the media is minimal or nonexistent. We understood, not because we like what we are doing, that this was the next thing that had to be done if we were going to carry our efforts any farther towards the elimination of surface mining.”