Here on our little hillside, in WV, we try to live a simple life. One where we can try to make the best decisions in regards to what we feed our family, and where we source our foods. We try to make green decision that are not only good for our family but for our community and planet as well. There is no place I would rather raise a family, than these WV hills! So I guess it is our responsibility to preserve them, and our heritage.

Monday, January 28, 2013

simple life at stake

Growing up in the mountains of West Virginia, I always had a dream of escaping this place.  Into a big city, with endless possibilities.  When the opportunity to leave came, over and again, I decided to stay.  I could not leave these mountains.  There is something about this way of life, these people, & about raising a family here.  I want my children to have the opportunity to see and experience the things I did as a kid, well, most of them..  ;)  These mountains helped shape who I am.  These mountains have taught me so much!  These mountains taught me to appreciate the simple, green life they help provide for us.

These mountains provide everything we need from entertainment to jobs.  From the family working in the coal mines, to the animals harvested during hunting season.  These mountains give us everything we need.  You can grow a garden and raise animals for milk and meat.  You can forage for berries, mushrooms, herbs, greens, ginseng, ramps, nuts, etc.  You can fish the local streams for native fish.  If not native, it was probably raised locally, somewhere like the Bowden Fish Hatchery.  You can also learn so much from these mountains about nature, science, animals, weather, & living in general.  These mountains also provide great entertainment.  From swimming in lakes and streams, looking for crawdads, hiking, biking, 4-wheeling, catching lightening bugs, boating, rafting, camping or simply exploring the woods.  You get so much from these mountains!

These people are special too, and you can never truly appreciate all that they have to offer, unless you can embrace their lessons as gifts.  The soul of every West Virginian resides in the way of life our ancestors adapted to in these mountains so many years ago.  We are a very friendly and welcoming group of people, with an amazingly rich heritage.  From the music, folklore, arts, culinary traditions, work ethic, family traditions, and beliefs, these people and our culture are remarkable!  Here are a few local musicians, Chad Slagle, The Davisson Brothers Band, Breach the Silence, & 6'6 240, as just a small examples of the great music that comes from this state. You can find a huge collection of WV artists (pottery, jewelry, fine art, folk art, etc.) at the Tamarak.  You can see live animals at Hovatter's Zoo or the French Creek Game Farm.  Go to the Theater, catch a concert, attend a music festival, watch the Mountaineers, and there are always local musicians playing somewhere close.

I would venture to say that West Virginia is one of the nation's top hidden secrets. Most of us would prefer to keep it that way.  Our state has been in the news lately thanks to the MTV premier of Buckwild.  However, our state should be in the news, for a far bigger reason,  the destruction of our mountains.  I know you have heard the debates over mountain top mining, but the truth is, our home, our mountains, are being destroyed daily by the process of Mountaintop removal.  An evil form of coal mining that blows the top off of our mountains and then tosses the remaining rubble into our nearest creek bed.   Destroying  not only the mountaintop, but areas surrounding it as well.  It is an extremely destructive form of mining, and employees more machines then men.  It is destroying our home, our heritage, our history, and it is killing our people.  Destroying our Mountains, destroys our way of living.

It is bad enough that our mountains, that have shaped who we are, are being blown up. Now one particular mountain is at stake that helped shape not just Appalachian heritage, but American history. Unfortunately  few have even ever heard its history.  Have you ever heard the term "redneck"?  Ever wonder where it came from?  Have you heard of Mother Jones?   Do you know how the UMWA started?  Do you know Blair Mountain and the history she tells?  Well, you should!  Everyone should!  Instead, this huge part of American history, & this historic mountain is in a legal battle between those who wish to preserve her and those who wish to surface mine her.

Many families in this state, including my own, have depended deeply on the coal these mountains hold.  For years, underground mining has supported our families, preserved our heritage and held our history. Mountain top removal however, seeks to strip us of our history, heritage, culture, and health. Strip mining is bad enough, but the damage to land, water, people, wildlife, heritage, etc., that comes with Mountaintop mining is unacceptable!  These mountains provide us with a simple yet seemingly perfect life.  It is time we start to channel our inner Mother Jones and "fight like hell" for the mountains that have shaped our lives.  We deserve the right to pass these mountains on to our children and grandchildren.  Actually it is our duty to preserve our culture for them, and to do so, we must preserve our mountains!