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Welcome to Appalachia Rising

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This is what activists participating in the Appalachia Rising convergence are fighting to protect.
(Image by Kat Wallace (
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br />This is what activists participating in the Appalachia Rising convergence are fighting to protect. by Kat Wallace (

What organizers are calling "an unprecedented gathering of Appalachian people and their allies in the movement to abolish all forms of surface mining" for coal, particularly mountaintop removal mining, will take place over the weekend. The organizers hope this weekend will be an opportunity to "build solidarity not only between Appalachians and their allies, but also between communities impacted by similar issues all over the nation."

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Saturday and Sunday will be about hearing from "Voices of the Mountains," people who have felt the impact of surface mining in their communities and people who have engaged in activism to bring surface mining to a halt.

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Attendees will hear stories from individuals like Matthew Sherman, a Blackfoot Indian of the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia and someone who has served as a Federal Native Americans Spiritual Advisor for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and an opponent of mountaintop removal mining. They will hear stories from leaders like Mickey McCoy, who will talk about experiencing a toxic coal sludge breach that occurred in Massey Energy's Martin County sludge dam. And, they will hear stories from people like Vickie Terry, who lives in the Clearfork Valley in Tennessee and can look out from where she lives and see mountains being blasted in a ridge nearby.

Sessions will be dedicated to education on the issues and tactics that this growing movement to end surface mining employs and will employ in the future. Coal combustion waste (or coal ash), coal-fired power plants, natural gas hydrofracking, climate change, resource extraction, monoeconomies, slurry and sludge, post-mining land use, and, of course, surface mining will be discussed. Participants will also be introduced to the tactics of nonviolent direct action like civil disobedience, permitting/regulation, economic diversification, field work, lobbying, corporate campaigns, land reform, community organizing, telling the movement's story through media, and using art to tell the story of Appalachia's coalfields.

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A "Day of Action" will take place on Monday, September 27th. It will involve a rally at Freedom Plaza, a march to the White House, and then a protest to demand the Obama Administration make the abolition of mountaintop removal mining a national environmental policy. These are the events on the agenda, but there may be some nonviolent direct action as well.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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