Archive for August, 2009

The tree sit occupying a WV Mountain Top removal site has been up almost a week! This is the latest update video from Climate Ground Zero. My previous post explains the action in further detail…

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Sit-two_banners Tuesday morning, two activists climbed up trees on the edge of the
Massey Edwight Coal Mine in Southern West Virginia. They dropped
banners that read: "STOP MOUNTAIN TOP REMOVAL" and "DEP- DONT EXPECT
PROTECTION." As of sun rise on Wednesday morning, the tree sitters
maintain that they will not abandon their treetop platforms until
Massey Energy commits to ending blasting above Pettry Bottom and
Peachtree, pays the full health care and property repair costs for
Pettry Bottom and Peachtree residents, and the Federal Office of
Surface Mining commits to the full reclamation of the Edwight mine
site. Most of the mountain they are occupying has been blown up, with
only a small knob behind them left relatively in tact. They have
successfully halted the mining of this last section so far and there is
no suspected plan to "get them down." This is the first tree sit that
the coal fields have seen, and I have heard it is the first ever that
the East coast has seen! The cops don't know what to make of it.

THE FACTS:

WHAT IS MOUNTAIN TOP REMOVAL?
It is a process of extracting coal by first deforesting the mountain,
then using explosives to blow up the surface, and then extracting the
coal. Needless to say this kills everything in site, from the worms in
the soil to the black bears and ginseng. The toxic dust and run-off
created by the blast buries all nearby streams and seeps down into the
surrounding communities.

WHY A TREE SIT??
The coal companies have lots of money and no morals. The agencies
appointed to regulate their behavior, such as the Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) simply refuse to do so. The only way to stop it is for the
citizens to take direct action!

The residents of Pettry Bottom and Peachtree have complained
continually to the DEP and other agencies about the blasting that is
happening in their back yard. The proximity of the current blasting is
illegal! But they coal companies are not required to stop when cited by
the DEP, they are simply required to pay a small fine, which is no hard
task for these rich corporate giants. A map available from Aurora
Lights at http://auroralights.org/map_project/images/maps/hazy/Permitted_MTR_Mines.jpg shows the proximity of homes in Pettry Bottom to blasting on the Edwight site.

Carol Beckner of Pettry Bottom said that she had to dig a ditch around
her yard to keep the run-off from getting into her house.

Carol also said this, "Me, my husband and both of my children all
suffer from respiratory problems, allergies, bronchitis and really bad
headaches, from constantly breathing in traces of coal and silica dust
and toxic fumes."

One resident, in tears, commented that what she misses most about the
pre-blasting days is her neighbors in the community used to take walks
at night. No one goes outside past dark anymore, though, because the
toxic smoke from the blasting creates such a thick fog.

When citizens living in the Coal River Valley called the DEP to
complain they were assured that the seismographs were check and the
blasting was within the legal limits. The DEP refused to further
investigate… until one citizen took in upon herself to call the
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Development (OSMRE), which
upon investigation resulted in four violations, including blasting
outside the legal limits.

The only violation issues so far in the Pettry Bottom area has been
after one community member complained that the run-off ruined her
garden. There has been no fine and no enforcement attached to this
violation.

Being clear that the members of these communities are not being
listened to by the government agencies slated to protect them, the only
way to stop the blasting is by getting in the way and simply not
letting it happen.

Continual updates on the tree sit can be found at http://www.climategroundzero.net

It’s All About God

Posted: August 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

Sounds like a super evangelical waste of time book, huh? Sounds like an invitation to deny all sensual and personal convictions and surrender your mind and body to the power above. Well then it may come as surprise that this new book by Samir Selmanovic is nothing of the sort. It's subtitle might offer a clue into the gist of what it's about: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian. Samir is a devout protestant and the founder of Faith House Manhattan, a religious community comprised of Muslims, Jews, and Christians who meet together regularly to learn from the teachings and practices each others traditions. It's Really All About God is a book about Samir's journey that led him to commit his life to interfaith dialogue. The book is not out yet, but I can vouch that it will be a great read based on the work of Samir that I am familiar with, his work at Faith House and his article in The Emergent Manifesto of Hope – an article definitely worth reading.

I started off this post the way I did for a reason. Any talk of God by Christains always seems to be interpreted as monotheistic and exclusionary, and for good reason. The popular understanding of God in this country is very much that way. Last weekend John Zerzan spoke at the Jesus Radicals conference in Memphis, TN. Afterwards, on his radio show he spent a good while reflecting on the event and talking about how great his experience was. Yet he was trying to wrap his head around how anarchists could be christains, based on the anarchist conviction of No Gods, No Masters. If one believes of an authority in the clouds, dictating the ways of man, how could this be anti-authoritarian in the least??

It is unfortunately not common knowledge, but there are ways of understanding God that are free from this authoritarian interpretation. Samir gets to the heart of it in The Emergent Manifesto of Hope and surely in this new book.

I suggest that everyone pick up a copy.

Ellul’s critique of technology has informed much of the christian and secular primitivist movement. I found the 1992 movie made about him on an open source site. Here it is free of commercial interruptions… oh the irony.

Appalachian Spring Cooperative

Posted: August 19, 2009 in Uncategorized

While searching for some Calendula ointment on the internet, I came across a coop that sells "premium products from rural and micro-entrepreneurs" of Appalachia. Though I think coops and local economic initiatives are great, I normally wouldn't be particularly excited about this find because of my anarchist ideals of non-work and a money-free society (email me for more on that). Yet this sparked my interest being that the coop is providing economic options for Appalachian folks. The biggest issue with coal down here is that the local economies are dependant on it. Everyone looks to the corrupt coal companies for their daily bread. Back in the early days of coal, miners where given food and housing by the coal companies in exchange for being overworked and having their health compromised. If they did something liberatory like stand up for themselves, or join the union, they were instantly homeless and hungry (thus the hobo movement). These days things are a little better, but the coal companies control the economy still. The creation of alternative economies is a necessary way for Appalachia to break free from the yoke of coal. The green job thing is a big cham that wants to promote green capitalism and uphold the over-indulgent way of life of America by providing alternative energies to power our selfishness. Green jobs is not the answer. But jobs, good, real jobs- working the land and selling your food and herbs to your community- that is necessary.

So that's my plug for the Appalachia Spring Cooperative. My Calendula should be coming in the mail soon.

Obama Offers More of the Same.

Posted: August 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

"This will not be quick nor easy. But we must never forget, this is not a war of choice, this is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”
-President Obama (yesterday)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy… Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God… 'You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”
-Jesus

Well Obama is charged with defending a nation, and Jesus was just a religious mystic trying to spread peace on a spiritual, not a practical, level… right? Not true! In the middle east (the same area Obama is talking about) the Roman empire was occupying Israel. The realities of war were well known to the people to whom Jesus was offering these statements. These are statements about war, about systematic injustice and not just some feel good message. Of course, just as all enlightened spiritual folks, Jesus surely spoke of the internal implications of war. As cliche as the sixties peace movement made it, love is the answer. The effects of violence are spiritual and emotional as well as physcial. It effects your health and your mind, just as much as your political situation. Obviously, something needs to be done in situtaions of proposed war- but the fundamental question is whether your liberty is more important than the liberty of your brothers and sisters whom you kill (whether pasively or actively), and are you willing to kill others (whether pasively or actively) so you can live with the illusion of security.

climate ground zero?

Posted: August 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

So I am at climate ground zero, an action camp set up to fight Mountain
Top Removal on the front lines through direct action in the vein of
Earth First! (EF!'s founder Mike Roselle is here too). For those who
don't know there is a specter haunting the wild world and it's reality
is effecting us all. The climate crisis is boiling over and the economy
finally resembles the sham it is. Those in power have gotten desperate
and will do whatever it takes to keep this sinking system afloat. The
latest innovation of industrial 'progress' is a process of extracting
coal out of mountains by blowing them up with explosives. It's as crazy
as it sounds. You have to see it to believe it, yet even when staring
straight at it- the acres of black ash and toxic sludge sitting where a
forest used to flourish- it's hard to believe that such a man-made
atrocity could happen. When mountains are blown up, everything dies-
trees, animals, plants, soil, and any hope of future life. The
surrounding communities are effectively destroyed as the toxins seep
into their water supplies, poisoning children who will grow up never
knowing good health, or when the coal companies force them to sell the
land they have lived on for generations. All so that we can keep the
lights on. The climate and economic situation are two heads on the same
dragon. Though they know the long history of corruption in the coal
industries, the miners argue that they need work. The coal companies
have them in a choke hold, just as they did the union folk a hundred
years ago. But hope comes through innovation. The first step is
recognizing that such destruction is not okay and must be stopped.
Wendell Berry puts it eloquently:

"The contradictions in the state's effort "to balance the competing
interests" were stated as follows by Ewell Balltrip, director of the
Kentucky Appalachian Commission: "If you don't have mining, you don't
have an economy, and if you don't have an economy you don't have a way
for the people to live. But if you don't have environmental quality,
you won't create the kind of place where people want to live."

Yes. And if the clearly foreseeable result is a region of flat
industrial sites where nobody wants to live, we need a better economy. "