Fracking Forum a Time to Learn, Unify and Act

Once educated, we are culpable if we do nothing

“My Lord, he said unto me,
Do you like my garden so fair?
You may live in this garden if you keep the grasses green,
And I’ll return in the cool of the day…

“Now is the cool of the day;
O this earth is a garden, the garden of my Lord,
And he walks in his garden
In the cool of the day.”

An excerpt from “Now is the Cool of the Day” by Jean Ritchie

By Michael M. Barrick

JACKSON’S MILL, W.Va. – On Tuesday, Nov. 11, residents of North Central West Virginia will have an opportunity to learn from those who have been most impacted by fracking in the Mountain State. A grass roots group of citizens from Lewis, Upshur, Gilmer, Harrison, Doddridge, Wetzel and other counties will hear from the folks who have had their air and water polluted, their peace disturbed, and their roadways made dangerous.

The town-hall type forum organized by the citizens will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Assembly Hall at Jackson’s Mill, which is located between Weston and Jane Lew in Lewis County. That location was chosen because the fracking industry is assaulting the people and land of Lewis County at an alarming rate, and because Consol Energy held a forum at the same location in September that accomplished nothing except to insult the people who came to have their voices heard.

Enjoying time with my granddaughter in the woods
Enjoying time with my granddaughter in the woods

While those in attendance at the Consol forum left with more questions than answers, that won’t happen at this grass roots meeting. The organizers have made sure of that by bringing in a number of people who have become unwilling experts on fracking methods and industry tactics, neither of which are pleasant. The main presenter will be Bill Hughes, a 36-year resident of Wetzel County. Also present will be Jody Mohr of Salem, Julie Archer of WVSORO, and Diane Pitcock with West Virginia Host Farms. Other presenters, experts and community organizers will be present.

I have been privileged to work with the group of people who have put this event together and will be participating as moderator. As such, I will simply strive to ensure that we have a civil, orderly and informative meeting that allows as many voices as possible to be heard. However, that does not mean I don’t have an opinion on fracking. I do. Those who have been reading my series on hydraulic fracturing know that. As a healthcare professional and researcher – and as someone who respects the fragile ecosystems which support life, I am convinced that fracking’s harms far outweigh any perceived benefits.

We are hoping for a large audience, as the hall can seat 300 people. I am eager to see people educated, and in a civil manner. Why? Because I have seen the joy in my granddaughter’s eyes when she walks through the woods, picks up a pretty leaf or admires a lovely flower. She is fearless, holding squiggly worms and chasing after chipmunks. We have walked, hand-in-hand, in the cool of the day. In doing so, we have connected to the “Spirit in the Sky” because of what nature offers.

NASA images show that we are destroying the planet. We are killing ourselves. We cannot stand by and allow this to happen. We must set aside our differences and protect the earth which sustains us. If we do not fight, we are culpable in the destruction of our children, grandchildren and subsequent generations.

We cannot ignore the facts. So, whether it is through prayer, or writing, or music, or advocacy, or simply planting a garden, or sharing a book, we have to act. Will we succeed? I don’t know. The odds are against us. But it is our job to use whatever gifts we have to sound the alarm. Then, if we are ignored, the problem does not rest with us. But if we say nothing, just resting comfortably in our material lives, we are as guilty as those intentionally destroying the environment for profit.

Life is a gift. The earth sustains that life. So, we must act. If not us, who? If not now, when? This is our time. We cannot surrender to the merchants of death and destruction.

Come to the forum. Attend with a spirit of unity and community. Now is the cool of the day. Let us treat the earth as the garden of the Lord that it is.

© Appalachian Chronicle, 2014. Barrick is the founder of the Appalachian Preservation Project. Learn more here.


  1. I love the picture of you with the “little one.” There is nothing better than being a grandparent. Love, Bunny

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