Friday, December 30, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Needless to say, I am disappointed.
I'm not entirely convinced that the project isn't dead. According to the article above,
"The date of the new public hearing — and a subsequent town council vote — for the proposed power station will not be set until 2012."That's fairly vague: 2012. Plenty of room to quietly fade away into the sunset.
Not counting on it, but a girl can dream.
In the meantime?
We are ready to fight. We've kicked these clowns over and over again, and we're ready to do it some more. We're rested. We're reinvigorated by this lawsuit win. We've heard their lawyer's canned responses so often, we could repeat them from memory.
There are simply too many questions and too many holes in their story to slide by without a whole lot of red flags for any critical thinker not to notice.
More and more people know about this project and are against it.
More and more communities and groups have passed resolutions against it.
More and more government agencies are realizing the science on coal is in....and it's not safe.
So, we'll rally our ever-growing troops and fight them every step of the way.
This time of year my kids and I love to watch the holiday classic, Home Alone.
I can't help but be inspired by some of the lines in the movie:
I feel the same way. This is my house, my community, our local-based business, our air and water, our planet. I have to defend it!
But my all time favorite quote--that couldn't be more applicable at this time--is this gem:
So here we go--it's fight time.
And as the kids say, it is on. Like Donkey Kong.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
What keeps you fighting? Leave a comment or a link to your blog.
Wishing you all wonderful holidays from my family to yours! xoxo
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I will be feeling that angst along side them this year. Acutely.
Apparently, in two weeks ODEC will decide whether or not to reapply to the Town of Dendron for the coal plant (read about the history of that HERE) or whether or not to scrap the entire project altogether.
Scrap the entire project altogether.
Done. Gone. Finito.
The day I have dreamed about for how many years now?
And we have to wait two weeks to find out?!
Only fourteen more days.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Did you notice I missed Why I Fight Friday?
I was busy. Very busy.
With what, you ask? Well, let me just tell you.
First of all, remember my Which Side Are You On? post listing the groups for and against the coal plant HERE?
Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to go back and edit that post. On Thursday night our neighboring county, Isle of Wight, adopted a resolution of opposition to the coal plant!
Of course, my elected officials and ODEC went to their meeting to try to influence them, but to no avail. Isle of Wight realized that this coal plant is dangerous and threat to their economy. You can read a terrific blog post (and even watch video footage of the meeting--which got a little....heated!) HERE.
Please, please, please join me in thanking Isle of Wight supervisors for their vote HERE. No matter where you are from, these folks did the right thing for all of us, and that is getting harder and harder to come by in this world, don't you think? Give them some love, wouldja?
Now, the other thing that had me running around was a wonderful Christmas delivery I had the fortune of making. Remember my appeal to donate to our county's Project Joy campaign in my Christmas on the Front Lines post HERE?
Well....let me tell you: Y'all did good! Y'all did better than good! Together we raised $525!
And the letters? Man alive....was I feeling the love!
But simply because doing the right thing is important.
For that I am so grateful. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Monday, November 14, 2011
Those against the coal plant:
- The Town of Surry
- The Wise Energy Coalition
- Chesapeake Bay Foundation
- National Parks Conservation Association
- Hampton Roads Bird Club
- Williamsburg Climate Action Network
- Cape Henry Audobon Society (Norfolk)
- VA Native Plant Society (State and Williamsburg chapter)
- Lynnhaven River Now
- Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program
- Coalition to Keep Surry Clean
- Garden Club of Virginia: A coalition of 47 clubs with 3,300 members.
- Isle of Wight Citizen's Association
- Carrolton Civic League (In Isle of Wight)
- James City County Citizen's Coalition
- Yorktown Democrats
- CINCH (Consortium for Infant and Child Health -at EVMS in Norfolk)
- American Lung Association
- Virginia Asthma Coalition
- Physicians for Social Responsibility
- The City of Williamsburg
- The City of Virginia Beach (on the verge of official opposition)
- Representative Bobby Scott
- Isle of Wight -showed concern in a resolution asking Surry to consider an independent study
Those for the coal plant:
- The Town of Dendron
- Surry County Board of Supervisors
Which side are you on?
The side with all the scientists, medical experts, and conservation groups?
Or the side who stands to make a whole lot of money (or thinks they will, anyway)?
I know which side I pick.
Which side are you on?
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Here's the summary of the situation that appeared in the article I was reading:
"Old Dominion Electric Cooperative gave the town $50,000 last year
for some emergency repairs,
- Smithfield Times, Oct. 26, 2011
Yeesh! $715,000? That's a lot of money. All tied up by a lawsuit, huh?
Proffers for sidewalks and recreation improvements make up the $115,000 difference. And even there the proffer agreement states that they shall be given "prior to obtaining a land disturbance permit for construction of a power plant."
Blaming this lawsuit on holding up anything but $50,000 is some funky math.
And it's definitely not as dramatic or divisive to blame some cititizens as it is to accept responsibility that you may have broken the law with your public hearing and misled the citizens by lying to them.
Wonder if they get group rates on new pants?
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Could you see a big industrial site and smokestacks coming up next to the tennis courts at the clubhouse?
Here's a more likely looking neighborhood:
Thus, making it a perfect target for a project like this.
One of my strongest motivators in fighting this plant is that injustice. I fight for my children, but the reality is that my children will not be here should this plant be built. We will leave. It will mean sacrifice and closing down a thriving business, but we do have the resources and we would be able to make it work.
There are so many who do not share the same privilege.
There are hundreds of children here who are just as beautiful, just as special, and just as deserving of every wonderful opportunity life has to offer as mine. Many of them come from families who do not have the resources to leave if the plant is built. Those children are a huge motivator for me--and many others--to fight this coal plant.
Proponents of the plant often criticize the opposition and this motivation. They say it's easy for us to oppose it since we are privileged. We aren't the ones who desperately need jobs. Some of us don't live in this community. And there is an implication that we only profess to care about these children, but really it's about our own vested interests.
Sadly, there's some truth to those criticisms.
There is a lot of privilege to fighting this coal plant. There are a lot of vested interests (from those who live next door to those who share this planet). And there certainly is a lot of privilege to sitting in my warm, snug den blogging about this fight on my laptop.
But, I will tell you what, I care about every child in this community. I would go to bat for any one of them. I would put myself in harm's way to spare any one of them.
I'm guessing you would too.
And now we have a fantastic opportunity to put our money where our mouth is.
This is an opportunity to help a few children in a front-line community by directly helping them--apart from a coal plant fight.
This is an opportunity to give some really wonderful children the kind of Christmas you may have had, your children may have, and the kind they deserve...no matter what their parents' resources.
Please, please, please join me in making a contribution to Surry County's Department of Social Services Project Joy!
This is a lovely program that provides "food, clothing, and gifts to children from the age of birth to 14 years of age, who are living at or below the State's poverty level."
Our local anti-coal plant group, the Coalition to Keep Surry Clean, will be fundraising to make a joint contribution, and are calling on generous folks like you to give generously.
Let's all be more than just just selfish, privileged critics, let's directly help some really great kids to have a magical Holiday Season!
Contact me at email@example.com to find out how you can help!
I'll keep bugging you until you do....so you might as well just do it now. : )
EDIT: Visit the FB event page for details and info HERE
Friday, October 28, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
And, yet, here they are...not going to trial "on the merits."
Here they are attempting another motion to dismiss the case. Another attempt to delay. Another roadblock to proceeding "to a conclusion on the merits."
Kinda makes you wonder why they don't want to go to trial. Or hold another public hearing.
In any event, doesn't seem like they were actually so "delighted," does it?
I know I would be delighted by that.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Truly, sometimes I really feel like we live in Mayberry.
It started off by crossing the river to meet a woman in "town" for a playdate. She and her family have just moved here from California and are looking for a place to buy. She mentioned that she had seen a house online in Surry and wondered if I knew it. I didn't, but I did see that my friend, Anna, was the realtor and I was able to call and set them up to view the property.
I also let these folks know that they would be right next to a wonderful pick-your-own farm and that they might want to make an afternoon of taking the ferry over, seeing the house, and then stopping by the farm for the corn maze, homemade pumpkin ice cream, and some pumpkin picking.
It makes me so proud to share the people and resources of our community!
Saturday, we spent hours watching our children's baseball teams play their hearts out, visited another local farm to get all-natural meats, and attended the loveliest campaign BBQ one could imagine.
One of the gentleman running for local office here is a blueberry farmer (he's also a lawyer who is suing ODEC. Ha! How's that for small town?).
Anyway, Saturday night he hosted us at his farm with a delicious dinner, fellowship, live bluegrass music, and some terrific campaign speeches. I also met a neighbor of his who
Seriously, Mayberry can't hold a candle to this place!
One of the blessings that has come of out this coal plant fight is the realization of many residents that our lack of participation in the local political process has allowed us to be in the position where our elected officials disregard us and we are not holding them accountable for their choices. So some folks have stepped up and are ready to jump right out of that frying pan and into the fire. God Bless, 'em!
And with campaign slogans like:
I gotta say, I couldn't agree more.
I love this place.
I want to see these farmers succeed. I want to see the kind of small town community, politics, and commerce that once made this country great thrive again. I want to see Mom & Pop stores on revitalized Main Streets.
And I really, really want to stay here until my kids are grown--coaching their kids on the same fields, buying delicious local produce from folks they've known their whole lives, and thanking their lucky stars that all those years ago a stinking coal plant got shot down in favor of something so. much. better.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Below is a copy of my speech and the trailer for the The Last Mountain. I highly recommend the movie! You can find out if it is coming to a theater near you by visiting their website at http://thelastmountainmovie.com/.
Powerful movie, right?
I don't know about you all, but I want no part of what we just saw. I don't want to stand by while it continues, I don't want to perpetuate it, and I definitely don't want to cause it.
What some of us might not know is that our community is directly linked to the one in the film.
If you have heard of the coal plant proposed for Hampton Roads in Surry County, then you know we are directly linked to those communities.
If we allow the Surry Coal Plant to be built--if we stand by and do nothing--we are participating in destroying Appalachian mountains, Appalachian communities, and Appalachian people.
This would be the largest coal plant in the state of Virginia, and one of the biggest in the nation.
By allowing this coal plant to be built, we are also participating in destroying Hampton Roads communities and Hampton Roads people; with more Code Red Air days, more asthma attacks, more babies and children developing asthma, and more mercury in our water.
Norfolk, of course, is downwind of Surry County. You could be downwind from 12,000 pounds of soot a day. Twelve thousand pounds of the kind of soot that doctors from the American Heart Association say causes heart attacks and strokes, and to which they say,
[If you are so inclined to join Appalachian Voices--an amazing organization--you can do so HERE.]
Friday, October 7, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
After a busy week and weekend full of speaking and traveling, it is time to spend this rainy autumn day snuggling with my babies in front of the fire, making some chicken soup, having a "messy party," playing cards, and whatever else they want to do.
See you on the flip side!
Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Introducing: "Psst . . . your pants are on fire!"
that comes out of the top of the coal plant
is water vapor."
And why the Smithfield Times would say that experts at the VA DEQ and Department of Health agreed with Mr. Hockman's statement. (I spoke directly to the folks at the DEQ and Dept. of Health and they categorically denied agreeing with such nonsense.)
The Smithfield Times said they took his statement “out of context.”
While an attorney for ODEC explained the gaff to the Surry Board of Supervisors as the reporter “misquoting Mr. Hockman.”
Misspoke, out of context, misquoted.
Wow! That's a lot of pants on fire right there.
But don't worry, there's still plenty more where that came from. Until next time! xoxo
Monday, September 26, 2011
First of all, my camera bit the dust over the weekend, so I am short on photos of the fun. Sorry.
The back story on this trip is that Greenpeace was given some funding to develop a new campaign fighting coal in impacted communities. The stipulation was that the work be directly with community members and community groups--not a "top down" effort, but a real grassroots effort. Yay!
In that spirit, Greenpeace set out to let the communities in question guide the direction of their campaign. Double yay!
After reading the speech I gave at the March on Blair Mountain, I got an email from a delightful Greenpeace staffer who wondered if I might be willing to provide some feedback for their effort. We spent a couple hours on the phone discussing the fight, my community, myself, and so on, and they asked if I would attend the Summit in Chicago to further develop their campaign. They had me at "all expenses paid."
One of the (many) cool things about the event was that it was held at a religious retreat and center. Hence, it was beautifully quiet and sparse. Loved that!
There were so many interesting and wonderful people in attendance: a filmmaker from New Jersey who had fought toxic pollution in his community, women from West Virginia and Kentucky fighting mountain top removal coal mining, several Navajo people from out West fighting coal plants and working for renewables on their reservation, a veteran activist from California fighting incinerators, some wonderful young people from Texas fighting coal, a real live Sea Shepherd, and several others who are involved in this fight in their own right--not to mention the many Greenpeace staff members who attended. A diverse and wonderful group of people, for sure!
Our intrepid leaders, Hannah and Ivy, took us through many hours of interviews, discussions, and brainstorming, which morphed into some very specific plans-of-action that Greenpeace might take on.
There were so many insightful and creative ideas, it was truly mind blowing--from peer-to-peer workshops to video campaigns to coordinated days of action--the ideas were as dynamic as the people in attendance. I can't wait to hear which projects Greenpeace takes on. I will let you know when I do.
In the meantime, you can check out their new Quit Coal website http://quitcoal.org/.
And watch a video of the history of the organization:
Friday, September 23, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
In the meantime, I thought I might do a post on where we are geographically. After trying to describe to folks over the weekend where in Virginia the plant is proposed, and where in the community the plant is proposed, I thought it might be a good idea to give a little perspective on both. (I think some folks thought we were in Appalachia. We're not.)
Usually what I tell folks is,
"We are just across the James River from Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg,"
"We are half-way between Richmond, VA and Virginia Beach,"
but, what usually gives them context is,
"We are the county where the Michael Vick dogfighting ring was operating." Everyone's heard of that.
Here's what it looks like on a map of Virginia--we're the county in red:
This my friend Helen:
Friday, September 16, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Never in a million years, when I started this fight, did I think I would be doing the kind of work that I am now. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate public speaking.
Makes me nervous, anxious, sweaty....you name it.
But, for whatever reason, God gave me a loud voice, an opinionated mind, and this coal plant fight. So, I try to remember that it's not about me--it's about the fight. It's about using the gifts that God gave me to fulfill His will (and, yes, I firmly believe it is His will to protect each other and His creation).
Meeting some of the most incredible people you could imagine is another reason why I do public speaking. It never ceases to amaze me how kind folks can be, and I've gotten to share a podium with some truly amazing and inspiring activists. It's all pretty humbling, really.
So here's what's coming up that will pull me from my usual comfy spot on the sofa--clad in pjs, laptop next to me, kids building some fantastic new Lego creation on the floor:
Sep. 17 - Chicago, IL - Greenpeace Quit Coal Summit
This is sort of a "focus group" for coal activists to help guide Greenpeace's new Quit Coal campaign. I'm super excited for this! Not only because I've always loved Greenpeace (their baby seal campaign was my childhood clarion call), but because I will get to meet other folks who are in the same boat we are. I can't wait to hear their ideas and inspiration!
I've been dying to see this movie (about mountain top removal coal mining). My dear friend has been touring with this movie (and Bobby Kennedy!) for the past few months. I'll be speaking about how our local fight ties into the larger issue of coal extraction. Bobby Kennedy will not be there. Sad panda.
Oct. 1 - Blacksburg, VA - Virginia Power Shift
This is a student-run event (and movement) working on clean energy solutions. I will be participating on a panel specifically about our coal plant. ODEC (the utility proposing the plant) has been invited, too. It will be interesting to see if they attend.
November (TBD) - Fairfax, VA - George Mason University
I'm super excited for this, not only because I may be speaking with the phenomenal Larry Gibson, but because GMU is my alma mater (and where I had to take public speaking for my degree requirements! Who knew that class would come in so handy?).
Whew...I'm tired and nervous just looking at all that! Did I mention I'm a homebody?
I have a couple of other exciting guest blog invitations in the works (some involving actual $$!), and I will keep you posted on those.
Until then, you can find me right here: Couch, laptop, coffee, and kidlets. Just to keep it fresh I'll round it out with some dishes, laundry, baseball, grocery shopping, and home renovations.
Just another day in the life!
Friday, September 9, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Lately I think about that big Firestone Tire recall that happened about 10 years ago: the tires were shredding off SUVs and people were getting injured and dying. Turned out the Firestone workers were on strike and non-union workers were the ones on the lines creating these malfunctioning tires.
Instead, we all understood that injury and death were not an acceptable outcome.
Not an acceptable side effect.
We understood that this company was going to be the one to eat the costs—no matter what they were.
And furthermore, we all understood that the company was going to have to figure out how to create a product that did not result in injury and death.
The coal companies and the electric companies need to be held to these same standards!
We need to stand together and demand that these companies go back to the drawing board to figure out an alternative.
And if they are unable to create jobs and create a product in a safe and affordable way, then maybe they are in over their heads.
Maybe they need to stop giving millions of dollars to politicians and start spending that money on hiring some people with the ability to think outside their one-trick-pony box
Sunday, September 4, 2011
This week there have been a spate of coal plant closing announcements in Virginia.
The Potomac River Generating Station in Alexandria and two here in Hampton Roads.
You'd think I'd be celebrating.
And I am.
That is a lot of toxic pollution that will no longer be an issue for millions of families. That is a lot of toxic coal ash that will never be generated. It's also a lot of mountains that may be spared destruction.
For that I am very grateful.
But I'm also concerned that these coal facilities may be converted into natural gas facilities.
This is an emerging trend: Replacing controversial and heavy polluting coal plants with less controversial and less polluting natural gas plants.
In fact, we're hearing a lot more talk and speculation about "our" coal plant being scrapped for a natural gas plant.
And while that would surely be the lesser of two evils, it's still definitely an evil.
It's still heavy industry--something our rural agricultural community has strongly opposed.
But more importantly, for me, is the issue of natural gas extraction. The method of fracking for natural gas is devastating communities. People's wells are being contaminated by the process, and people are getting very sick.
Just as I want no part of blowing up mountains for coal, I want no part of poisoning other communities for natural gas.
Josh Fox's documentary Gasland shows some of the devastation:
This resolve to not destroy others so that some may benefit was cemented for me very recently.
In the wake of Hurricane Irene we have had a large number of brave and hardworking electrical workers in the area attempting to restore power to our homes.
While washing dishes the other evening I heard a loud explosion, and I ran out to see if my neighbors were OK.
Thankfully they were.
It seemed the noise came from the electrical workers around the corner.
When I mentioned to my neighbor that I hoped none of the workers had been injured, he said something that was surely meant to be a joke, but struck me nonetheless,
But it symbolizes one of the main problems with our current electricity set-up: We often don't care. Mostly because we don't have to.
We don't know who is getting injured.
Probably the majority of Americans don't know that someone is getting injured.
Some of us more directly than others. Some of us sooner than others. Some of us more disproportionately than others.
And all kidding aside, I do care.
I don't wish to do either.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Here in Virginia we've just experienced Hurricane Irene.
Below you can see some of the damage.
Wind blown debris:
Tree limbs down:
Gas station awning twisted from the wind:
This was not a hundred year storm, just a regular ol' Category One hurricane.
Why does that matter?
Because, according to Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), the coal ash landfills (some of which are located in floodplains) are rated for one hundred year storms.
Pshew! Good to know.
I was worried that material, which is the consistency of baby powder, piled seven stories tall over hundreds of acres, would take off in hurricane force winds.
I mean, these people say it regularly blows out of ponds over their community:
But rest easy, naysayers!
And know that we've got the expert's final word on the matter:
Given the damage we've just seen, that sounds perfectly reasonable, right?
Given that ODEC told the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) there would be "fugitive emissions" and "wind erosion" of fly ash, that sounds in keeping, right?
Given that Mr. Smith could not explain to the Commission how ODEC would seal a 7 story tall mound of ash in a synthetic liner, that sounds like an educated assertion, right?
Nothing to worry about, right?
Friday, August 26, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Not the least of which have been meeting and developing friendships with some of the most amazing people.
The other night we were lucky enough to have a few of them over for dinner.
A few who have become much more like family than just acquaintances or friends.
A few who have:
Spent hours playing with our children,
shared countless meals with our family,
educated us on activism and a host of other issues,
and been some of the most supportive and helpful allies my community and I have seen.
I mean, really, had it not been for the coal plant would I have ever met someone like Becks Kolins? An amazing young person who just spent two weeks 80 ft. up in tree on a mountain top removal coal mining site?
Nope. Probably not.
So as I sat in my dining room--with one little boy asleep on my lap and the other one asking Becks about the first-hand experiences of living in a tree to fight for a cause you believe in--I had to think, "This coal plant thing...it's been a real blessing."
Monday, August 22, 2011
It might if you were 5 years old
I might if you were 5 years old and your home was 1800 feet from a proposed coal plant site.
And your parents made the heart-wrenching decision to sell the only home you've ever known. All so you would never have to live 1800 feet from the largest coal-fired power plant your state.
Would you cry and beg your mama to not to put that sign in the yard at your new home?
Because you don't want to move again.
And leave behind your friends.
And your swing set.
And the house that has your height marked off in pencil on your closet door.
When you are five and live on the front lines of coal, a simple yard sign can mean absolutely everything.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Welcome to the official groundbreaking of my new blog!
:: insert fancy ribbon cutting ceremony here, complete with awesome giant scissors ::
Needless to say, the past few years have been an experience:
Lots of tears,
lots of unity,
lots of learning,
lots of uncertainty,
and one big
Through it all my children have been my biggest cheerleaders and driving forces.
I will not raise my children in the shadows of coal stacks.
And I have come to believe that no one's children should be raised there either.
I hope you will join me on the journey to make that happen!