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This past week, I primarily watched War Tapes (2006) and did some reflecting about this project. I spent most editing time working on the rough cut for 450, and the screening showed me that things are sort of a mess. I don’t feel good about where the rough cut was…it’s not what I want it to be like. You may ask “well what DO you want it to be like?”. That’s what I’ve been trying to think about. Luckily, I do think I have proper footage to work with…I’m just not putting it together in the right way. I think one thing that will really help both the 450 project and my tutorial cut of the film is thinking sooner rather than later about the voice over I want to do and what can give the film the breathing room it needs. One thing I have said I want to shy away from is a voice-of-god commentary. Right now, I feel like that exists in the film, and need to make space. I want to be able to back away from the compulsion to “tell everything”. If I can tell a few stories or make a few points, that will be powerful. Blah! I don’t know how to do that. I feel like I don’t know how to do anything right now.

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Herk McGraw drove from the outskirts of Charleston, West Virginia to participate in this week’s Senior Citizens March to End Mountaintop Removal. Sue Rosenberg made the trek from Saugerties, New York. They were not solely motivated by the call for elders to join the struggle against environmental devastation in Appalachia; McGraw and Rosenberg are joining the 25 mile march from the State Capitol to the gates of Mammoth Coal Company in part because of young people in their lives. McGraw’s granddaughter, Zoe Beavers, and Rosenberg’s son, Mathew Louis-Rosenberg, are both active in Climate Ground Zero, a civil disobedience campaign based in the coalfields of southern West Virginia.

“I’m opposed to mountaintop removal, of course,” said McGraw, a Methodist minister and coal miner’s son, “But particularly after they arrested Zoe [in August’s tree sit at Pettry Bottom, W.Va.], that gave me a little more enthusiasm about coming out and supporting her.” Beavers, 28, served as ground support for the two tree sitters. She was arrested twice over the course of the five day protest; once two days after returning as a liason for the sitters at the request of state police.

Beavers enlisted in the U.S. Army after her high school graduation in 2000 and did not move back to her home state until May of 2009. She credits her return to West Virginia, where she lives with family in St. Albans, to the burgeoning movement for environmental justice in the coalfields.

“My whole life I was taught that nothing can change in West Virginia, we shouldn’t fight for it because it’s a lost cause,” the Iraq War veteran, who now works with the Student Environmental Action Coalition out of Charleston, said, “We are not powerless.”

Her grandfather’s main concern with mountaintop removal mining is the industry’s dishonesty.

“What they’re talking about mountaintop removal and what actually happens with mountaintop removal are two different things,” he said, “They say that they are putting it back like it was . . . but what’s been done with it mostly is the golf course and the prison.”

Mat Louis-Rosenberg grew up in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. Born in to a family with deep activist roots, his first memory is of participating in a march in his hometown at three years of age. Louis-Rosenberg was raised with a strong appreciation for United States radical history- he learned about West Virginia through family friends’ stories of the labor movement.

Louis-Rosenberg moved to the Coal River Valley last year to work as a Sludge Safety Project organizer with Coal River Mountain Watch. His work with Climate Ground Zero includes a May 2009 arrest for playing a support role in a lock down to machinery on Kayford Mountain. In a pre-trial hearing, he was among two of the eight activists involved in the lock down who refused to plead no contest and accept a fine of nearly $2,000. He will be tried by jury on October 15 at the Madison Courthouse in Boone County.

“Mat used to say that he walked in the footsteps and on the shoulders of his grandparents and he was very proud of that,” said Sue Rosenberg, 62, who is in West Virginia for both the March and the trial, “I’m proud to now be walking in the footsteps of my son.” Rosenberg was a Civil Rights activist during her high school years in New York City, and later went on to work against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons; as well as in solidarity with the people’s movements of Central America.

Sue Rosenberg was recently arrested at a June 23rd Marsh Fork Elementary School rally. The school, in Sundial, W.Va., sits just below a 2.9 billion gallon coal waste sludge impoundment and next to a coal silo and processing plant. Community organizers, West Virginia Senators Byrd and Rockefeller, and Congressman Rahall are pressuring Massey Energy, who owns the plant, impoundment and silo, to pay for the relocation of Marsh Fork Elementary. Rosenberg has been active in her recruitment of others to the cause, including World War II veteran and anti-war activist Joan Keefe. Keefe, at 88, is the oldest participant in the march.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Andrew Munn or Dea Goblirsch 304-513-4710
Email: news@climategroundzero.org

BELLE, W.Va. – Two young people unfurled a banner which read, “Yes, Coal is Killing West Virginia’s Communities” off of the Walker CAT building in Belle, W.Va. at 12:55 p.m. this afternoon. The youth, who say they were acting in solidarity with the Senior Citizens March to End Mountaintop Removal, are affiliated with Climate Ground Zero. The March passed the Walker CAT building on today’s route.

Gabe Schwartzman, 19, and David German, 18, were arrested by City of Belle Police and cited for trespassing on a structure or conveyance. They were taken to the Magistrate’s Court in Charleston, where they were released at 3:00 p.m on $100 personal recognizance. Steve Walker, CEO of Walker Machinery Company, accompanied the arresting officers to the court.

At 3:20 p.m., the Senior Citizens March to End Mountaintop Removal was halted by the City of Belle Police Department. Officers took the IDs of three marchers who Walker CAT security claim walked onto the business’ property.

Walker CAT’s Earthmoving Division is one of the main suppliers of equipment to mountaintop removal sites in West Virginia. They are also at the forefront of pro-coal advertising campaigns. In addition to television, print, and billboard adds, Walker CAT produced “Mountaintop Mining Viewpoint,” a brochure aimed at influencing public opinion in support of the practice. The twenty-eight page document makes claims that mountaintop removal coal mining is necessary, cheap and environmentally responsible.

While speaking to marchers and supporters at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charleston last night, Larry Gibson of Kayford Mountain stated, “They keep saying coal is cheap. Ask someone who lost someone in the mining industry how cheap it is. We know better than that in the coal fields.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Andrew Munn or Dea Goblirsch 304-513-4710
Email: news@climategroundzero.org

CHARLESTON, W.Va.- Fifteen participants between the ages of 50 and 83 set off on a Senior Citizen’s March to End Mountaintop Removal at 10 a.m. this morning.  The march was preceded by a rally and press conference in front of the State Capitol building, and is sponsored by a coalition that includes Climate Ground Zero, Mountain Justice, Intergenerational Justice and Christians for the Mountains. It is part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign against mountaintop removal in West Virginia.

Senior Citizen March

The seniors are walking five miles each day for five days, ending at Massey subsidiary Mammoth Coal on Monday, Oct. 12. In a statement issued by the US Mine Safety & Health Administration yesterday, Mammoth Coal was named as one of ten mining operators that need to improve performance or face tougher enforcement.

The mountaintop removal mine and processing plant, formerly operated by Cannelton Coal, was bought out by Massey in 2004. Massey cut the United Mine Workers of America contract and reopened the site, located east of Charleston on Route 60, as the non-union Mammoth Coal Company. The decision was met with a UMWA-organized picket and lawsuits.

“Mountaintop removal is closing in on our home place in Coal River, destroying the ridge up and down the river,” said Julian Martin, 73, a coal miner’s son and Vice President of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, “I see mountaintop removal as probably the world’s worst environmental disaster.” Martin’s grandfather fought in the largest organized labor uprising in United States history, the Battle of Blair Mountain.

March organizers Roland Micklem, 81, and Andrew Munn, 23, are planning activities and speaking events each evening, including talks by Larry Gibson of the Keepers of the Mountain Foundation and Jesse Johnson, 2004 and 2008 Green Party gubernatorial candidate at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charleston on Friday and Saturday night.

“We seniors need to make a statement with our own actions and share the risks that are part of this ongoing effort to stop the obliteration of West Virginia’s mountains,” said Micklem, a Korean War veteran and former environmental journalist. His organizing philosophy is rooted in Ghandian principles of nonviolent civil disobedience and dialogue with opposition; the energetic senior invited Massey Energy officials to speak with him at the gates of Mammoth Coal Company on Monday. Micklem has not yet received a response.

“As a young person, it is inspiring to see the strength with which senior citizens are stepping forward to meet the task at hand,” said Munn, “Climate justice and the preservation of ecological and cultural heritage are issues for all generations, so I think it is fitting that we see this coalition emerging at the forefront of the movement to stop mountaintop removal.”

Friday’s portion of the March will leave at 10 a.m. from the Poorboy’s Market, located at 4008 Malden Dr. in Charleston.

Updates and multimedia can be found on http://www.climategroundzero.org

The schedule is ready! Visit the event’s tab for contact/registration info.

 

Day 1, Thursday October 8 

9:00 AM to 9:30 AM, State Capitol

Assemble at the State Capitol Building for the March Kick Off Rally

1900 Kanawha Blvd Charleston, WV 

9:30 AM, State Capitol

RALLY FOR AN END TO MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL! 

 

 

10:30 AM, State Capitol

March down Kanawha Blvd 1.5 mi., turn left on Point Dr, turn right on Piedmont Rd 1 mi. 

1:00 PM

Roadside lunch break near the intersection of Snow Hill Rd and Piedmont Dr.

Continue down Piedmont 1.4 mi, walk up onto Rte 60/Kanawha Blvd via Campbells Creek Rd.

Continue down Rte 60/Kanawha Blvd .6 mi., exit at Malden Rd., take Georges Dr. to Malden Dr. 

4:00 PM

End at Poorboy’s Market 4008 Malden Dr, Charleston

Shuttle to the Charleston Environmental Council Building 2206 Washington St E, Charleston  

6:00 PM

Seeds of Peace and Everybody’s Kitchen will provide dinner for marchers, hosts and other supporters, followed by group activities.

Shuttle to host family homes and overnight accommodations. (This is to be arranged between you, your host, and your driver) 
 

Day 2, Friday October 9 

9:00 AM, Environmental Council Building

Meet at the E Council Building to caravan to Day 2’s starting point.

2206 Washington St E, Charleston 

9:30 AM

Cars leave for Poorboy Market to start the march.

4008 Malden Dr, Charleston

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10:00 AM

March Begins down Malden Dr.

Malden Dr Bends to the left and back to the right, where it turns into Midland Dr.

Midland Dr. runs parallel to Rte. 60 for 2 miles. 

12 PM

Roadside lunch break near the intersection of 34th St and Midland Dr. 

1 PM

Resume March

Midland Dr. Turns into Dupont Ave/Malden Belle Rd. which runs for 3 miles parallel to Rte. 60 and passes the Dupont Chemical Plant. 

4 PM

Day 2 march ends at the intersection of Maple Rd. and Dupont Rd. 

6 PM

Dinner at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charleston

520 Kanawha Blvd W., Charleston  

Evening Speaker: Larry Gibson 

Shuttle to host family homes and overnight accommodations. (This is to be arranged between you, your host, and your driver) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Day 3, Saturday October 10 

9:00 AM, Environmental Council Building

Meet at the E Council Building to caravan to Day 3’s starting point.

2206 Washington St E, Charleston 

9:30 AM

Cars leave for the intersection of Maple Rd. and DuPont Ave. to start the march.

4008 Malden Dr, Charleston

10:00 AM

March resumes at the intersection of Maple Rd. and DuPont Ave. 

10:45 AM

Deliver a statement to Walker CAT offices at 1400 DuPont, Belle in opposition to their MTR-promoting misinformation campaign.

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11:00 AM

Resume march as DuPont Ave. turns into Orchard Ave. which dog legs onto Rte. 60/DuPont Ave 

1:00 PM

Roadside lunch break near the intersection of Fairview and Rte. 60. 

4:00 PM

Day 3 march ends at the intersection of Willow Dr. and Rte. 60 

6:00 PM, Unitarian Universalist Church

Dinner at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charleston

520 Kanawha Blvd W., Charleston  

Evening Speaker, Jesse Johnson, Mountain Party 

Shuttle to host family homes and overnight accommodations. (This is to be arranged between you, your host, and your driver) 
 
 
 
 
 

Day 4, Sunday October 11 

9:00 AM, Environmental Council Building

Meet at the E Council Building to caravan to Day 4’s starting point.

2206 Washington St E, Charleston 

9:30 AM

Cars leave for the intersection of Willow Dr. and Rte. 60 to start the march. 

10:00 AM

March resumes from the intersection of Willow Dr. and Rte. 60 

 

 

1:00 PM

Roadside lunch break near the intersection of Melrose Rd. and Rte. 60 

2:00 PM

Deliver statement to the American Electric Power Coal Plant in Glasgow WV, off of Rte. 60. 

2:30 PM

Resume march down Rte. 60  

4:00 PM

Day 4 march ends at the intersection of Britt Hollow and Rte. 60. 

6:00 PM

Dinner at the Environmental Council’s Building

2206 Washington St E, Charleston 

Training: Nonviolence 

Shuttle to host family homes and overnight accommodations. (This is to be arranged between you, your host, and your driver) 
 

Day 5, Monday October 12 

9:00 AM, Environmental Council Building

Meet at the E Council Building to caravan to Day 4’s starting point.

2206 Washington St E, Charleston 

9:30 AM

Cars leave for the intersection of Britt Hollow and Rte. 60 to start the march. 

10:00 AM

March resumes from the intersection of Britt Hollow and Rte. 60 

 

 

1:00 PM

Roadside lunch break near the intersection of Adkins Ln and Route 60. 

2:00 PM

Final 2 mi. march to Mammoth Coal Company. 

4:00 PM

Rally, Protest, and non-violent civil disobedience 

5:00 PM

Those not arrested at the action, drive back to E Council Office. 

6:00 PM

Dinner at the E Council Office 

You can independently arrange housing for Monday night with your host home or through support volunteers.

 

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Thursday, September 17th, 2009

81 Year Old Military Veteran Announces 25 Mile Senior Citizen’s March to End Mountaintop Removal

Contact – Roland Micklem or Andrew Munn                304-854-7187        

Click here to listen to Micklem’s radio interview excerpts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Roland Micklem is an 81-year-old military veteran from Richmond, VA. State police arrested Micklem and three others for blockading Massey Energy’s regional headquarters in an act of non-violent civil disobedience on the morning of Wednesday September 9. In his statement, Micklem announced his intent to lead a five day, 25 mile march for senior citizens, ages 55 and older, in a protest against mountaintop removal (MTR). Micklem and other participants will depart on the morning of Thursday October 8 from the state capital in Charleston, W.Va.. The march will conclude at the gates of the Massey-owned Mammoth MTR site in Kanawha County on Monday October 12, where those who choose to will engage in an act of non-violent civil disobedience against mountaintop removal.

In Micklem’s open letter, he states, “No substantial gain in our efforts to continually evolve into a more humane and caring society has been made without the willingness of individuals—with non violence as both a creed and a strategy–to step outside the framework of law and tradition in order to correct wrongs when conventional measures had failed. The abolition of slavery, the enactment of civil rights legislation, the right of women to vote, the termination of the Vietnam war could not have come about without the help of the same kind of non violent, direct, and sometime unlawful action that we are using here to stop mountaintop removal. And as a Christian as well as one who basically respects the laws of the land, I see the growth and maturing of my Faith to be in direct proportion to my readiness to stand for truth, and to embrace causes that will contribute to our moral and spiritual uplift as the dominant species on the planet.”

Micklem’s march is a collaborative project between Climate Ground Zero, Mountain Justice, Intergenerational Justice, and Christians for the Mountains, and is part of an ongoing campaign of non-violent civil disobedience against mountaintop removal. Micklem and march co-organizer, Andrew Munn, age 23, are planning evening activites and speaking events to conclude each day’s walk and educated the public about MTR and related issues. Larry Gibson of kayford Mountain and 2004 Green Party gubernatorial candidate, Jesse Johnson are among those expected to speak and participate in the march. Senior citizens who are unable to march are invited to join in for the evening activities. More information on programming will be made public in future releases on www.climategroundzero.org.

According to Micklem, five people, including clergy men and women, are committed to the full march, and at least ten others will join for stretches. He expects more will join as word spreads.

Massey subsidiary Mammoth coal operates a mountaintop removal site and coal processing plant next to Route 60 east of Charleston. In 2004, Massey bought out Cannelton Coal, which formerly operated that site, cut the United Mine Workers contract, and reopened it as the non-union Mammoth Coal Company despite a union organized picket and lawsuits.

September 10, 2009

Dear friend,

On Wednesday morning I and 3 fellow activists chained ourselves together and blocked the entry to a road leading to the regional headquarters of the Massey Coal Company a few miles from the West Virginia state capital in Charleston.  This was part of an ongoing campaign to stop the practice of mountaintop removal (MTR), which is resulting in the obliteration of an entire mountain range in order to access a few seams of coal. Massey is the dominant coal interest in the region, and is responsible for almost all of the MTR operations.

MTR is the single most egregious environmental crime of this or any other century.  Not only are the mountaintops themselves destroyed, but the down slope streams are filled with rubble and the health of inhabitants of the mountainside hollows is seriously compromised by the inhalation of silica dust and by impurities in the drinking water. Reclamation efforts have by large been ineffective, and studies indicate that restoration of these mountains to their to original states is an act only God could accomplish.

I am acting in solidarity with comrades who, unlike me, are not professed Christians, but believe as do I in the sanctity of the mountains, and indeed of all that God has created.
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