September 25-27, a delegation of MCS Activists traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend Appalachia Rising, a national event bringing together thousands of people from around the country around the issue of Mountaintop removal mining.
Kyle Bartos ('11), Vaughn Simmons ('11), & Janet Ortiz ('10) led a dynamite workshop entitled "Youth Organizing" on the MCS activism process and the specifics of our work last year around the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining. The thirty participants (ages 19-60) were captivated for all 90 minutes, and many stayed overtime to follow up with questions and ask us about sharing last year's student projects as examples to inspire their students in programs based out of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia.
In addition to leading a workshop, a poster designed by MCS students was featured in the "Voices from the Mountains" exhibit in the Georgetown Conference Center. We also attended sessions on non-violent demonstrations and a workshop connecting hydrofracking to mountaintop removal mining and other resource extraction processes. The issue of hydrofracking for natural gas was of particular interest to us, because the MCS farm and NYC drinking water would both be impacted by hydrofracking in the Catskills.
After two days of learning, we joined forces with thousands to call for an end to Mountaintop removal mining. The rally began with speeches from our heroes Larry Gibson and Judy Bonds (by letter) as well as songs from across the Appalachians, including Native Americans from Thunder Nation. We marched and sang with familiar faces from our adventures last year, including many from West Virginia, the Beehive Collective and Reverend Billy and his stop-shopping Choir.
We stood on the steps of the EPA, hearing speeches from Lorelei Scarbro and younger friends from the Coal River Valley. And we called for the EPA to do their job.
The march ended at the Whitehouse. After we had met our train and said good bye to our dear friend and generous host, Rachel Sussman, hundreds of our fellow marchers risked arrest to sit in the picture spot and deliver a message to Obama about the urgency of the plight of the mountains, the water, and the people of Appalachia.