Building Power to Overthrow King Coal

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
posted by rampscampaign57

Our Work is Evolving…

And we can’t wait to tell you about it.

When we reflect on ourselves as an organization, we realize that RAMPS is very different than it was even 9 months ago. We’re pretty excited about the way that we’ve evolved, so we’re writing to tell you about it in hopes that you’re as excited as we are and ask you to help support this work with a donation.

Our campaign here in southern West Virginia was profoundly impacted by the coal-processing chemical spill that poisoned the drinking water of 300,000 people. Our work in the wake of this ongoing water crisis connected us more closely with some of the communities most vulnerable to the abuses of an extractive economy, and our current projects are working to build power in those communities. RAMPS pursues this work through participation in several new local projects, while continuing to work regionally and continentally to connect, build, train, and support the larger “movement”.
Over the last few months, RAMPS has broadened the scope of our local work and broadened the way we conceive of and employ “direct action.” In addition to confronting the coal industry at the point of extraction, we see direct action also as direct intervention, direct support/service, working to create community based solutions and community organizing and empowerment. All of this is Radical Action for Mountains’ and People’s Survival.

We know that the destruction of the land is always dependent on economic and political oppression of those who live on it. More and more RAMPS is seeing our role as working to subvert the power structures that rob Appalachians of their health, clean water, and self-determination while simultaneously providing direct support to those most impacted by these abuses and connecting these local struggles to similar struggles in other communities. Since February, we have created the Stories from South Central project and were an integral part of creating the West Virginia Clean Water Hub and the Kanawha Forest Coalition. Below is some more about each of these new projects.

If you want to support these projects and help us shift power in Appalachia, please consider a financial contribution to keep them running.

WV Clean Water Hub

In the wake of the water crisis caused by Freedom Industries, RAMPS, through the WV Clean Water Hub, provided clean drinking water for hundreds of people who had had their tap water poisoned with MCHM. In addition to providing ongoing access to clean water, RAMPS is working to help create long-term community based solutions to bring clean drinking water to the community of Prenter.

Prenter has been suffering for years from well water that was severely poisoned by strip mining and slurry injections; the residents there who were forced onto a municipal water by that contamination made the switch only to have their new water source poisoned as well. The experience of this community mirrors that of so many other rural West Virginia communities and illustrates how the coal industry is still perpetuating the ongoing water crisis and how the best solutions involve local control of resources.


Kanawha Forest Coalition

Charleston-area residents, who have wised-up to industry abuses in the last few months, have organized an energetic opposition to a local strip mine. The mine would destroy a ridge in Kanawha county right next to the Kanawha State Forest and imperil a the community below which is already vulnerable to lethal flooding. As a coalition member, RAMPS seeks to strengthen and unify the statewide movement to abolish mountaintop removal.

Stories from South Central

In February, we began visiting prisoners who were incarcerated in Charleston’s South Central Regional Jail during the water crisis. The jail staff and administration failed to provide clean water and humane treatment to inmates during the crisis, and subsequently punished inmates who attempted to speak out or seek medical attention for symptoms related to MCHM exposure. We launched the Stories from South Central project as an avenue to amplify prisoner voices.

Since February, we have been in contact with over 100 prisoners incarcerated in South Central and other jails and prisons in the state. We provide continued support to individual prisoners, including staffing a “jail support” line, and are currently organizing with prisoners to advocate for systemic change in both South Central Regional Jail and the jail and prison system throughout West Virginia. We recognize that the prison-industrial complex and mass incarceration are part and parcel of the extraction economy, and view prisoner support as a necessary step to combat the social, political, and economic oppression that sustains the power of the coal industry in Appalachia. Learn more about our work, read prisoner letters, and sign a petition calling for justice for the prisoners of South Central on our website.


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