Mountain Justice Spring Break by Krista Shugart

         I have been very busy this past week because I have been trying to keep up with all my schoolwork, tests that I had this week, and I have been organizing an alternate spring break! The alternate spring is Mountain Justice Spring break, and I am counting down the days!! A lot of work went into the planning of this! I wrote a proposal for student senate with my friend Scott, and we presented it to student senate this week. Guess what!? They helped us GREATLY with funding!!! The transportation to Appalachia, VA, which is where the spring break will be is really expensive. But student senate gave us funding to support our transportation for the trip.

Here is the information about the spring break…

         Mountain Justice Spring Break will bring students face to face with the devastating effects of mountaintop removal and coal industry abuse, and will give students the skills and knowledge that they need to fight back. Through education, community service, speakers, hiking, direct action training and more, students will learn from and stand with Appalachian communities in the struggle to maintain their land and culture. Students will support the growing anti-mountaintop removal movement in Virginia and Southern Appalachia. Mountain Justice Spring break will be facilitated by Mountain Justice, RReNEW, and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.

            This is important because the burning of coal is responsible for 40% (2 billion tons per year) of US greenhouse gas emissions. Coal affects the air we all breathe nationwide, contributing to thousands of cases of childhood asthma and premature death per year. Mountaintop removal is also causing a loss in biodiversity, more frequent and powerful storms, rising sea levels, and numerous other issues. Other issues of mountain removal mining are poisoned groundwater, rising cancer rates and other negative health effects in communities. These negative effects are being ignored by the coal industry as well as dismissed by local and national governments and mass media. For five years, Mountain Justice has worked in the coalfields of TN, KY, WV, VA, and OH to stop mountaintop removal mining and restore the health of the people and ecosystems.

            During the Mountain Justice Spring break, seven Green Mountain College students will join with like-minded college students from across the country to gather from March 3rd-11th to mobilize against mountaintop removal and learn about the vibrant history of the Appalachian region. The goal for Mountain Justice Spring Break is to educate, empower, and activate students to take action year round to stop mountaintop removal mining and create space to build sustainable and vibrant economies in its place. Students will attend daily workshops. One of the main ideas behind Mountain Justice Spring Break is that America’s dirty coal secrets have remained hidden for too long. Coming to MJSB allows students to see the injustices of coal first hand and then join the fight against them.

          Upon return from the trip the students who attended would give a presentation to the GMC and Poultney community about what we learned at the Mountain Justice Spring Break. The Mountain Justice Spring Break will equip us will the grassroots organizing and environmental advocacy skills necessary to promote empowering positive change in and around the Green Mountain College community. This change would come through the education of the public, working with elected officials, and direct action. Green Mountain College cares about environmental issues, and we do more than talk the talk about being green; we walk the walk and take action by sending students to fight injustice to protect the environment and a safe livable future for all. This will be a departure from many of our roles as a chorus of advocates simply calling for change; we will emergence into a position of leadership; demanding real change on energy and social justice for all, and refuse to stop until it is achieved.

           I am really looking forward to writing back about how the spring break goes, and everything that I learned!! If you do not know much about mountaintop removal, I encourage you to go to google and look at pictures, and read articles. It is a huge problem facing our world today.

 

Spread peace and love!! Protect the mountains!

 

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