We greet this new year with joy and thankfulness – for the wonderful people, our beautiful mountains, and our precious water in Appalachia. We also greet this new year with strength and power – we are ready to fight for our people, our mountains, and our water.
The Alliance for Appalachia met in December to reflect on our past work and continue building a strategy for 2017. We’ll be busy doing the two things we do best — bringing people together and fighting like hell to protect our water and our future.
If you’re reading this right now, you’re someone who cares about protecting our water and creating a diverse, sustainable future for Appalachia. You might also feel pretty lonely sometimes – like there aren’t many people that agree with you. The Alliance for Appalachia unites thousands of people who feel exactly like you do. Through our work and our amazing member groups, people like you are uniting to fight the battles that you care about.
Are you ready to work too? We’d love you to join us! You can help by donating to our work, or by joining one of our work teams!We’ll be sharing out greater details of our projects over the next months, but here’s a quick preview:
Clean water is what ties us all together. Across Appalachia, and across the United States, people are fighting for clean water. In 2017 we’ll join together with allies nationwide and locally to lift up the importance of our water and to defend this precious resource.
We were pleased to see the Stream Protection Rule was released in the last moments of 2016. It isn’t as strong as we’d like it, but we know it will help protect our water from the new threats we are facing from mountaintop removal coal mining. We’ll be fighting off attacks to protect our progress and working with agencies to see that it gets enforced.
We’ll also be keeping our eye on a slew of new mountaintop removal threats. Our member groups are leading the way as the first line of defense when their communities are threatened by new mining. We’ll work to lift up these local threats to the national level.
Our members are excited to dig into the issue of reclamation as a way to both clean up the toxic legacy of coal in our communities as well as bring in much needed economic development. It has been a great opportunity to engage with new partners and a great conversation starter for organizing in our communities.
Our economic transition team will continue to build on the success that the RECLAIM Act had in 2016. We’ll also work to complete:
a “Shovel Ready Toolkit” which will empower communities to take local reclamation issues into their own hands
our report on bonding, an important issue as coal companies continue to go bankrupt and leave the burden of destroyed mountains on already hurting communities
As always, we’ll be working to bring people together to create regional strategy and opportunities for action. In welcoming the new year we now have a new Coordinator, Christa Faulkner, to help to pull it all together. Christa based out of Beckley, WV, has a Masters in Counseling Psychology from the University of Louisville focusing on Expressive Therapies. She more recently attended Western State Colorado University to further graduate studies in Environmental Management, focusing on sustainable and resilient communities.
Christa’s undergraduate degree is in Studio Art from Eastern Kentucky University and she is a self-taught web designer, freelancing since 2009 and contributing to social and environmental advocacy through multimedia design. She has contributed design work to the Coal Free Future Project, Art Meets Activism Grant projects in Kentucky, and individuals working on social justice in the region.
Christa joined AmeriCorps VISTA and served two terms after working as a Counselor and children’s advocate for ten years. She recently completed her last VISTA service year as the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement VISTA Leader in the Appalachian Region. She is passionate about the social, economic, and environmental costs of mining and the importance of preserving the rich biodiversity in the region. Born in Kentucky and living in Montana and Colorado influenced her decision to move back to the region and help others make the connection between our ecosystems and wellbeing.
Now more than ever is the time to unite in the face of dangerous policies that would divide our communities and take away our power. To that end we are working with allies to create a Collective Liberation training that examines the root causes of injustice in our region and our nation and is oriented towards concrete action we can take as individuals and organizations to create a more just and inclusive society.
To do this, we’ll need your support! Can you donate your time or money to help our work? To create member led strategy, we need the wisdom and input of our amazing grassroots members across the region. And we need grassroots fundraising from regular people – our members and our allies – in order to keep our work moving during these difficult times.
For the Mountains,
The Alliance for Appalachia