I am tired but I want to post a quick update. I think time moves slower in Appalachia... sort of like Easton. I feel like we've been here for weeks, but in a good way. I'm exhausted at the end of every day, but I think that's because I'm still waking up in the middle of the night a lot. Yep its been three weeks of bad sleep..its getting old.
On the upside we had sunshine today at it was above freezing. We went an awesome coffee shop, a Presbyterian church, a great cafe with bookshop selling local crafts, and a community arts org that preserved Appalachian culture by teaching locals about the arts. More on that later hopefully, but in the meantime Courtney Moore you need to go to AppalShop.org and die because you'll be in preserving local culture heaven. The people who started it got grants to so similar things in developing countries.
I am learning a lot about issues related to coal mining and I can't wait to come home and research it so I can do a thorough description on my blog. In the meantime go to Google Images and search "mountain top removal mines" and be horrified. The cheapest and easiest way for coal companies to get to coal is by just blowing the top off the mountain and filling in valleys with the debris. Deep mining and auger mining would create more jobs without devastating the landscape but it costs a little more.
Then search "sludge reservoir disaster" and be disgusted. Coal companies wash coal in water and leave the waste in ponds all over Appalachia. It leaches into the lands and water - and worse - occasionally floods communities with something resembling lava-tar. There is waste-free way to clean coal but it costs $1 more per ton. The spill in Kentucky in 2000 was 30 - YES - 30 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
I plan to write a lot more later on what I am learning about these issues. At least for right now the region needs coal to survive, but the systems that are supposed to protect the people are not doing their jobs.
That said there is a lot of awesome stuff happening here. Each person I meet is doing good work in such different and creative ways. They are speaking up for the people but in ways that are gentle and compassionate.
And as a side note, my accent is gradually relaxing into a definite drawl. When I'm around Brits, Aussies and South Africans it is more like my inflection gets yanked around in odd ways. In the south its just like I fall into the accent. I have a feeling I am going to end up with a more pronounced Eastern Shore accent as a result.