I am humbled that I get to do this, that I have the time and the means to come here to learn from others about mountain top removal and how it affects people in the mountains -- in terms of health, physical security, jobs, sense of home, faith and spirit, politics. I am grateful that I will be spending time with people who have done so much work in this area, people of wisdom and courage, some of whom have put their own security and freedom on the line. I am a little nervous -- will I get it? can I contribute in any meaningful way? and basically the age-old - will I fit in? For real! Almost 59 years old, and still wondering about that!
In July, I get to teach Environment and Psychology again to the masters students, then I will do a related course in the fall with the doctoral students. I feel such a responsibility to understand these ideas -- How is our well-being affected by the natural environment? How are we affected when we unplug and spend time in nature, or have access to whole healthy foods and safe water? How are we affected, physically, emotionally, spiritually, by environmental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the BP oil spill or the tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan? How do WE affect the environment? Can we learn to make really good choices, each day, so that the world that supports us stays clean and safe and viable? In the classroom, these questions sometimes seem so abstract. I suspect that they won't seem so abstract this week.
We will be visiting some mountain top removal sites, so I will see, smell, hear all about it in a very concrete way. I will be learning about what the mountains have meant and STILL mean to the families they have sheltered and supported for hundreds of years -- and what it feels like to have these centuries-old guardians threatened.
I don't live here and I cannot really know what it is like to live in such precarious circumstances, but what I hope to bring home with me are some universal stories and truths that I can share with others. I am humbled and grateful.
Unplugging for the duration.... talk to you soon.