Over the past few months, outdoor activities with local youth have developed into a new project, the Youth Engagement Project (YEP). RAMPS members have been making trips with local youth to find downed trees in the forests surrounding Whitesville, then cutting and splitting it into pieces that are sold as firewood. Some of the wood is also given directly to the families of youth involved in the project. Here in the mountains, firewood is not just easy to find, it’s also a part of this culture: using chainsaws, mauls, and woodstoves is a part of the mountain way of life. The youth who are participating in YEP have a lot of fun getting outside and like having a way to earn some spending money; they’re also very proud of their accomplishments.
YEP outings also include root-digging days in which RAMPS travel with local youth to places in the forest where medicinal herbs, such as yellowroot (Hydrastis canadensis) and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), can be gathered. In the process, youth travel through areas where the destructive impacts of the coal and gas industries are visible as well as to older, more intact forests ecosystems where most commercially valuable wild roots are found. After the roots are gathered and dried, RAMPS also help the youth to get their roots to market. We’re especially excited to engage local youth with projects that get them outside, equip them with skills they can apply outside our program, and teach them more about the land surrounding our area. Since we like to incorporate general learning about the forest into the program, YEP will collaborate with other adults in the community to teach the youth to identify different plant species.
Youth projects aren’t restricted to forest outings, and we’re still expanding our nascent projects. Some of the wood we gather is usable for lumber, and so YEP is considering milling some wood with our chainsaw mill to build a woodshed and improve our water catchment system. We’ve also received a grant to build a community garden and to grow some more veggies here in raised beds on some vacant lots in town–just in time for fall crops! The garden which will consist partly of individual beds for people in the community and partly of a ‘community bed’ which will be used to provide fresh vegetables to families in need during growing season as well as vegetables for canning to provide food in colder months. As a collective, we’re excited to see where else this budding project branches out in the future.
We continue to support, advocate for and amplify the voices of those trapped in cages and those recently released. We have made incredible progress over the last year, and we’re excited to tell you about new directions in our work.
Stories from South Central was created as an emergency response to the systematic chemical poisoning of people incarcerated in South Central Regional Jail in Charleston, WV, in the wake of the January 2014 MCHM spill. Our investigations revealed widespread human rights abuses inflicted upon the jail’s population during this crisis (and generated this in-depth ThinkProgress article). In June, this report formed the basis for comments by the President of the Connecticut State Senate where he called out the former executive director of the WV Regional Jail Authority, Joe DeLong, for his failure to protect prisoners from drinking toxic water.
Though our work on this matter is far from over, those brave prisoners who chose to speak out have ensured that this travesty will not be forgotten and that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.
The failed response by the jail staff and administration to the water crisis is an example of a larger pattern of abuse, violence, and negligence. To combat these abuses, we operate a full-scale prisoner support and advocacy project.
We’re now working with former prisoners who want to fight for better jail conditions, more decarceration and re-entry opportunities, and accountability for past abuses. We are currently collaborating with comrades we met while they were locked up in South Central to build a network of prisoner supporters and advocates primarily consisting of formerly incarcerated people.
We are pleased to announce that the West Virginia Department of Corrections has lowered rates on phone calls substantially, and we are pressuring the Regional Jail Authority to follow suit, resulting in front page coverage in the Charleston Gazette and further coverage via the Associated Press.
Our work includes staffing and funding a jail support hotline that WV prisoners can call to report on conditions, request help with lawyers or bureaucrats, send messages to families and friends, or just chat with us. The high number of people contacting us means there are fewer people languishing in West Virginia jails and prisons without outside contact and more prisoners bravely defying a culture of repression and violence to speak out and assert their humanity.
We also continue to support prisoners by keeping up regular written correspondence, visiting, providing court support, facilitating new pen pal relationships, maintaining a media presence, providing commissary and books for prisoners in need, and working to build solidarity between the climate justice and prison justice movements.
Please support this work with a donation! As an all-volunteer organization, we depend on generous donations from supporters to continue our work. No donation is too small — everything helps! If you are in a position to do so, please consider becoming a recurring monthly donor.
Your support will help us keep moving forward with our efforts to amplify the voices and political power of those currently and formerly incarcerated. Don’t hesitate to get in touch!
For a world without cages,
Click here to subscribe to our email list and receive these updates directly in your inbox! RAMPS March 2015 Update Radical Action For Mountains’ and People’s Survival A dispatch from Whitesville in the southern coalfields of West Virginia Donate to RAMPS’s General Fund! Dear Friends and Allies, It’s been quite a month here in southern […]
Earlier this month, RAMPS joined leaders from across the continent for the 4th Extreme Energy Extraction Collaborative (or E3C) Summit in Biloxi, MS. As part of the Extreme Energy Extraction Collaborative, RAMPS helps build connections between different organizations and frontline communities fighting extraction, as well as helping to organize this annual summit where leaders of the […]
Update: David has served his 30 days and is walking free! ————————————————————————————– Update: David has said that he’s doing okay with reading material in jail, and he’s asked that anyone else who was considering sending books his way donate to Dineh relocation resisters on Black Mesa in Arizona instead. See the link on the right […]
RAMPS and Keepers of the Mountains are hosting the 9th annual Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain, October 24th-26th. Join us for a weekend of workshops, discussions, storytelling and music as we celebrate the changing of the leaves at the beautiful Stanley Heirs Park on the edge of destruction. Register Now! For this […]
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