Three years after Preserving Sacred Appalachia Conference, Appalachia and all of the planet is as vulnerable as ever to fossil fuel industry
April 22, 2018 — Three years ago this morning, I was having breakfast with our daughter Lindsay in Charleston, W.Va., reflecting upon the Preserving Sacred Appalachia conference we had organized with the help of countless of others. It has broken up the day before, and we allowed ourselves an extra night int he Mountain State’s capital to visit our favorite restaurant for dinner — Leonora’s Spagetti House.
We were hopeful. Despite a steady, cold rain that morning, the outlook we took from the conference reflected that spring morning; while it was cold and rainy, the grays and browns of the West Virginia winter had finally turned green in the Kanawha Valley. Indeed, during the warm and sunny days of the conference, the 50 or so gathered often looked longingly out the window at the budding leaves gently moving from the invisible breeze.
But we stayed inside, because we were gathered for a common and critical purpose — preserving Appalachia and all of the planet. We presumed, as you will read below from the article posted shortly after the gathering, that people from all backgrounds and disciplines could and would agree that the earth is sacred because it is the source of life.
We did. However, three years later, it is clear that the fossil fuel industry has been crushing all efforts at preserving our air, land and water. EQT (Pittsburgh), Dominion (Richmond), and Duke Energy (Charlotte) have set up a nice little triangle of fossil fuel dominance in Appalachia. Since 2010, they have bought the legislators in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Federal and state regulatory agencies have ignored the law and will of the people and greased the tracks for the very companies they are supposed to hold in check.
I am saddened, but I am in awe of our allies (many mentioned below) that continue to fight the good fight to preserve Mother Earth. On this Earth Day, let us recommit ourselves to being part of that fight. — MMB
Unity the Theme at ‘Preserving Sacred Appalachia’ Conference
Interdisciplinary and interfaith gathering helps strengthen collaboration on environmental issues
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Approximately 40 ecological preservationists joined together in Charleston at the St. John’s XXIII Pastoral Center from April 19-21 to champion responsible environmental stewardship in the context of understanding that Appalachia – and all the earth – is sacred. Among those at the “Preserving Sacred Appalachia” conference were people of faith, activists, artists, scientists, politicians, and educators.
The unprecedented interfaith and interdisciplinary gathering was sponsored by St. Luke’s United Methodist Church of Hickory, N.C. In-state partners included the Sierra Club – West Virginia chapter and West Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (WVIPL). The Appalachian Preservation Project handled public relations, planning and logistics for the conference.
It was an intentional interdisciplinary and interfaith outreach by and to people that are devoted to preserving the eco-systems which support life in Appalachia. It brought together the region’s rich collection of seasoned, experienced preservationists. While several organizations provided speakers, the event also included numerous attendees from West Virginia and other Appalachian states determined to identify fundamental areas of agreement regarding the immediate core challenges to Appalachia’s eco-systems and key strategies for addressing them.
The gathering concluded with a roundtable discussion of the topics discussed over the course of the conference. From those discussions, participants will issue a white paper – scheduled for release this summer. The white paper will be a unified, decisive statement identifying the core challenges threatening the people and environment of Appalachia; explaining what makes Appalachia – and all the earth – sacred; and to equip the people of Appalachia with practical, effective methods to help preserve the region’s water, air, soil, habitats and natural beauty.
The keynote speaker was Tierra Curry, the senior scientist and a conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. The conference kicked off with an extended trailer of the feature film, “In the Hills and Hollows,” a documentary by Keely Kernan, an award winning freelance photographer and videographer. The documentary, which Kernan is presently filming, investigates the boom and bust impacts that mono-economies based on fossil fuel extraction have on people and their local communities.
Other speakers included Susan Hedge with the Catholic Committee of Appalachia; Bill Price, the organizing representative for the Sierra Club – West Virginia Chapter; Allen Johnson of Christians For The Mountains; Angie Rosser, the executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition; Ben Townsend, a West Virginia traditional musician; Carey Jo Grace and Tuesday Taylor with Our Children, Our Future; Robin Blakeman, the Special Event and Membership Committee Organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition; Mike Manypenny, a former member of the West Virginia House of Delegates; Bill Hughes, the West Virginia Community Liaison for the FracTracker Alliance; Bob Henry Baber, a widely published Appalachian poet, novelist, creative writing teacher and mosaic artist; Barbara Ann Volk, a Lewis County landowner; Liz Wiles, the chair of the Sierra Club – West Virginia chapter, as well as Aurora Lights and the Mountain SOL school; Lindsay Barrick, an artist and the Director of Programs at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church; Mel Hoover and Rose Edington with WVIPL; Autumn Bryson, an environmental scientist; Michael Barrick, the founder of the Appalachian Preservation Project and publisher of the Appalachian Chronicle; and, all of the conference attendees.
Topics addressed include Appalachia’s sacredness, climate change, water quality, the role of art and music in telling Appalachia’ story, mountaintop removal, fracking, natural gas pipeline development, child health, politics and policy. It also included times of meditation, reflection and sharing.
As the conference completed, several presenters commented on its value. Wiles shared, “The Preserving Sacred Appalachia conference was a great opportunity to re-connect with familiar faces in West Virginia’s environmental movement as well as meeting members of the faith community who are working on environmental issues in their congregations. This was a good step in bringing together all kinds of communities who care about the health of their families, their neighbors, and their local, natural environment.”
Manypenny said, “I found it very inspiring that so many came out to participate in this event, both as speakers and as advocates, in the ongoing struggle for environmental justice, our Appalachian way of life, and for our love and appreciation of nature.” Barbara Volk echoed his remarks, adding, “I found myself so inspired by the diverse group of people that are ready to shift the paradigm regarding how we affect change in this culture of waste.”
Price added, “I’ve been thinking about how the conference will benefit the work that all of us are doing. I think that the faith community can help to convene spaces where people of various opinions and perspectives can come together to get to know each other, to figure out those common values, and to work together for a better future.” Blakeman said, “The conference was a great opportunity to network with and learn from like-minded individuals.”
Hoover offered, “This partnership demonstrates that we are at a crossroads in the Mountain State. We have always known that we must work together to address the many environmental issues impacting the people and ecology of West Virginia. This conference, by joining together people of faith with scientists, educators, artists and others, sends a clear message that cannot be ignored – we are united in purpose.”
© Appalachian Preservation Project, LLC, 2015. The Appalachian Chronicle is a publication of the Appalachian Preservation Project. The Appalachian Preservation Project is a social enterprise committed to preserving and protecting Appalachia. If you wish to support our work, please consider becoming a member.
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‘Fractured Sanctuary’ considers destruction to the environment
By Michael M. Barrick
HICKORY, N.C. – Lindsay Barrick’s latest body of work – “Fractured Sanctuary” – is part of her ongoing series dealing with the destruction of the natural world and the people who are called to aid in its reconciliation. The exhibit will hang at the Bethlehem Branch Library in Alexander County, N.C. from August 7 until September 25 as part of the Exhibiting Artist Series. She will also show at the United Arts Council of Catawba County in January 2015.
Five years ago, the mixed media artist attended a social justice class at her grandparents’ parish in Bridgeport, W.Va. The topic was mountaintop removal. She revealed, “My life was rocked when I learned of the magnitude of the devastation.” Raised to be an outspoken advocate for environmental justice, she became especially passionate about issues relating to mountaintop removal and hydraulic fracturing.
“Fractured Sanctuary” explores themes of demolition and insatiability, attempting to convey the ugly, dirty side of ‘progress.’ All works are one-of-a-kind artist proofs. A West Virginia native, she lives and creates in western North Carolina. She draws strength and inspiration from the ancient Appalachian hills and continues to work on an ever-expanding series that explores themes of destruction and reconciliation of the natural world.
In “Fractured Sanctuary,” each piece was made using an etching press. Other than producing a block carving Christmas card in 1993, she had never worked in the indirect process. She took her first printmaking class with Thomas Thielemann in the spring of 2014. “Fractured Sanctuary” is the direct result of learning how to create monotypes, intaglio prints, and collagraphs at Caldwell Community College. Most of the work was made on the Hickory Museum of Art’s intaglio press.
Barrick said, “I am thrilled to partner with one of my favorite non-profits – Appalachian Voices – an organization which advocates for cleaner energy sources in Appalachia and the whole of America, particularly shining the light on the costs of mountaintop removal and hydraulic fracturing.” Ten percent of all sales will benefit the important work of Appalachian Voices.
The artist was awarded a Regional Artist Grant by the United Arts Council (2012) and a full scholarship from Windgate Charitable Foundation (2013) to study encaustic painting from renowned artists Celia Gray, Elizabeth Tomasetti, and Fawn Potash at Penland School of Craft. She is in the process of converting an old garage into an encaustic and printing studio.
Lindsay’s small-scale collages, made entirely from found objects and recycled material, were featured in the 2012 two-person show, “Up Close & Far Away.” Her work was selected as part of “Concertina, Interpreted,” an invitational exhibition at Caldwell Arts Council based upon North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti’s latest book of poetry.
Lindsay creates from her Jazz Age home in the Green Park neighborhood of Hickory. She has studied with Jacquelyn Mate, Thomas Thielemann, Lynda Lea Bonkemeyer, Damon Hood, Jean Cauthen, and Mary Dobbin. As facilitator of the Hickory Museum of Art’s Open Studio, she often paints alongside other artists, including Kate Worm, Stephen Brooks, Matthew Good, Clay James, and Joel Kincaid.
Barrick is a founding member of Harmony Arts Collaborative, the co-founder of The Boating Party, and a co-founder of Painting with Peers. She coordinates art projects for a local non-profit and is passionate about promoting and collaborating with other artists, writers, and musicians.
“Fractured Sanctuary” is dedicated to the memory of her paternal grandmother, Minetta Lane “Sparky” Barrick – a life-long advocate for the down-and-outs and underdogs – and to her parents for their constant encouragement and deep love of the mountains. Lindsay’s niece Atleigh, who is already an artist at five, is a huge inspiration. The impetus for the work comes from Lindsay’s deep desire to leave the world more beautiful for Atleigh and those who will follow.
© Michael Barrick/Appalachian Chronicle, 2014.
(Note: Lindsay Barrick is the daughter of Michael Barrick).