The voices rising in this fine and essential collection gathered by novelists Silas House and Jason Howard each sings their own song of the people and land protesting the violence being done to it by Energy companies and their practice of mountaintop removal...strip mining with a vengeance.
I would almost call this a "chorus" of voices, except it is clear that each voice is candid and has its own character and song. Country singer Kathy Mattea, for example, comes across with characteristic wit and passion in a call for "A Light in the Dark." Her "Coal" CD in which she cries out in a beautiful plaintive voice might be played while reading this book of Appalachians. Environmental engineer Jack Spadaro makes the case clear: "We've destroyed a million and a half acres in the past thirty years with mountaintop removal. It's gong on at an accelerated rate now. It's not just destroying the land; it's destroying a whole people. It's destroying a culture. It's destroying towns. It's destroying the most diverse forest outside the tropics in the world. This is the Mother Forest for North America." Spadaro laments the way the United Mine Workers of America and the Mine Safety and Health Administration have become complicit in this devastation of a culture and a land. He was fired by the Bush administration for making such a stand. As Silas House and Jason Howard make clear in the introduction, Appalachians must stand up on their own against this practice which ultimately robs jobs and land.
Each speaker is given a well written profile introduction, and each provides an interview statement of their life and involvement. It begins with folk singer Jean Ritchie, moves to novelist Denise Giardina, nurse activist Bev May, veteran coal miner Carl Shoupe, Kathy Mattea, local activist Judy Bonds, grassroots organizer Pat Hudson, Jack Spadaro, young spokesman Nathan Hall, Ann Shelby and Jessie Lynne Keltner, and concludes with Larry Bush of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. Each of their voices and stories is well worth the listening and ultimately inspiring. The book's mission is clearly to move the public to action, to create a public outcry by building a concrete awareness. It is a long overdue and healthy gathering shared here.
For a complete review of this important book, see Erie Wire edition of my review:
Causes Larry Smith Supports
peace and justice, meditation