This past weekend many college students, folks from around the east coast, and even travelers from Europe converged in Rock Creek, WV for the Mountain Justice Fall Summit, an annual gathering put together by Mountain Justice, Coal River Mountain Watch, and RAMPS. The weekend consisted of many workshops, networking, and even a dance party.
As folks arrived on Friday evening, there was a community panel and a showing of On Coal River. The weekend was both a reunion and a time to meet people from different communities around the world. It was a weekend of building a stronger, more inclusive movement.
It was a beautiful fall weekend–perfect weather for a positive learning environment. Summit attendees went to many workshops such as mountaintop removal 101, non-violent direct action trainings, campaign strategies and tactics, de-escalation, capitalism and the coal industry, militarism in appalachia, and the prison industrial complex. Each workshop was led by members of RAMPS, Coal River Mountain Watch, Mountain Justice, and hosts of Appal Shop’s radio show, “Calls From Home” on WMMT. The day was full of new information for everyone. No matter who you talked to, the answer at the end of the day was, “wow, I’ve taken in a lot of information today.”
In order to let all that we’d learned sink in, we decided to celebrate some birthdays and have a dance party on Saturday. We all danced and talked late into the night. Beside a warm fire, folks sat around telling jokes and engaging in more serious conversations about college divestment campaigns, direct action in Appalachia, campaign planning, and anti-oppression. Around midnight we started to go off to sleep because we knew that the next day there would be a lot to do.
On Sunday folks woke up to a wonderful breakfast, prepared by Seeds of Peace and Everybody’s Kitchen, and packed up to head to Kayford Mountain. Kayford, Larry Gibson’s property, bears witness both to the devastation of mountaintop removal and the power of resistance. At Kayford people were met by about a dozen counter-protesters. Yet, after some time, Fall Summit attendees and the counter protesters were able to engage in some healthy dialogue.
After the eye-opening experience on Kayford, the weekend came to an end as folks left for home. Attendees committed to staying involved with the movement in southern West Virginia. The resounding commitment to end Mountaintop Removal, and all extractive industries, rang loudly across the board. Students and community members plan on bring the information they learned this weekend back to their hometowns.
Mountain Justice Fall Summit was a great success! We hope to see many of our new friends back for exciting RAMPS actions over the next few months.