by David Masterson
Last semester, 25 Earlham students drove to southern West Virginia and attended the Mountain Justice Fall Summit, a weekend-long outdoor conference about mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR). This not only provided an eye-opening experience for many first-years such as myself who had never seen a mountain top removal site before, but it was also a great opportunity to connect with students from other schools sharing a similar interest in ending the destruction caused by mountain top removal practices.
Among many of the people I met that weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Junior Walk, an influential activist working to stop fossil fuel companies from Appalachia. Realizing the urgency and importance of stopping the destruction of these mountains, Junior quit his job and joined the Coal River Mountain Watch. Since joining the movement, Junior has become a prominent speaker, winning the Brower Youth Award in 2011 and appearing as a Keynote speaker at the 2011 PowerShift conference. Now he travels around the country raising awareness about MTR. Recently, he has also been helping coordinate relief efforts for victims of last month’s water crisis, when a spill of a coal processing chemical poisoned the water for 300,000 West Virginians.
Next week, right after mid-semester break, Junior Walk will be coming to Earlham to speak about the destruction that fossil fuel companies cause with their mining practices. He will be speaking on Monday the 24th at 8:00PM in the Rose City Coffee Co-op, and we hope to see many community members there to hear about these important issues.