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Sat Aug 30, 2014, 01:54 PM

Interview With Wired Appalachian Advocate, Dana Kuhnline

Interview With Wired Appalachian Advocate, Dana Kuhnline
by Joe Solomon
Social Media Trainer for Energy Action Coalition, and writer based in Charleston, WV

You spent a number of years in West Virginia and elsewhere in Appalachia and working to build the movement against mountaintop removal coal mining in the heart of coal country. Tell us about a moment working in West Virginia. Specifically, tell us about a moment when you felt like you were totally out of hope. What happened?

A single moment? An obvious choice was a tense public hearing in 2009 that had a huge pro-coal mob outside (the Army Corps Nationwide 21 Permit Hearing). I had to go through the mob (to get my car keys) and got shoved and hit by a woman HOLDING A BABY - she shoved me WITH THE BABY. I was just so flabbergasted, all the fear left me. How do you move forward as a community from a level of fear and desperation so intense that people are physically using babies as weapons? When the main reason I got involved in fighting mountaintop removal was to protect children's health. And I don't want people to judge this woman; she was put in a terrible position and did something terrible -- that is what oppression does to us all sometimes. I tell the story to point out the system that very deliberately created this situation.

Also I was dressed up very nice in a suit, but wore a button that gave me away as a tree-hugger, and everyone kept telling me to wash my hair, take a bath, etc. My hair looked very clean, but that's not the point, it was just, people didn't see me at all, but the lie they were told, that I was the dangerous one, and that was more comfortable than the truth - that coal is just running out. Whether or not I wash my hair ever again, we have to transition the Appalachian economy.

You asked about hope. To be honest, hope isn't something I fuss about. To me, whether we win or lose (and we will do both) my priority is to do that with dignity....

MORE at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-solomon/interview-with-wired-appa_b_5715543.html

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