I’m so proud to call this beautiful state my home ♥
One of my favorite places in the world.
I’m so proud to call this beautiful state my home ♥
One of my favorite places in the world.
Almost Heaven, West Virginia
Most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Pictures don’t do it justice.
So, so homesick. ❤ God, I miss those mountains.
“Coal Reignites a Mighty Battle of Labor History,” Blair Mountain history on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Unemployed coal miners install solar panels in West Virginia
December 10, 2012
A group devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia is building a first for West Virginia’s southern coalfields region this week – a set of rooftop solar panels, assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors.
The 40- by 15-foot solar array going up on a doctor’s office in Williamson is significant not for its size but for its location: It signals to an area long reliant on mining that there can be life beyond coal.
People were skeptical when the idea was first floated about a year ago, says Nick Getzen, spokesman for The Jobs Project, which is trying to create renewable energy job opportunities in West Virginia and Kentucky. In the southern coalfields, he says, people have only ever gotten electricity one way – from coal-fired power plants.
“This is the first sign for a lot of folks that this is real, and that it’s real technology, and they can have it in their communities,” Getzen says. “In no way are we against coal or trying to replace coal. There’s still going to be coal mining here. This is just something else to help the economy.”
The Jobs Project teamed up about a year ago with a solar energy company from the Eastern Panhandle, Mountain View Solar & Wind of Berkeley Springs, to develop a privately funded job-training program. The 12 trainees are earning $45 an hour for three days of work, while some local laborers are earning $10 an hour helping out.
Mountain View owner Mike McKechnie is also buying all his electrical supplies from a local business.
“We are not funded by any state organization. We’re doing this as a business because we want to grow the solar infrastructure and industry,” McKechnie says. “We’re West Virginians, and we think it’s important. There’s a need here that’s not being met.”
Demand for solar energy has been growing in West Virginia, and McKechnie’s company has been expanding with it. Mountain View has tripled in size two years in a row and is likely to do the same in 2011. It now employs 15 full-time workers, five part-timers and a network of about a dozen electricians, plumbers, roofers and general contractors who do installations when McKechnie calls.
“This training model we’re unleashing in Williamson is something we’ve proven,” McKechnie says. “It’s not a pilot project. It’s something we’ve shown works.”
Besides installing the rooftop array, the trainees and three of McKechnie’s employees will also be doing assessments on seven other properties this week.
“What we’re doing is giving them a crash course. They get an introduction, and if they want to continue, then that’s who we’ll call in the future,” he says.
If they like the work, they’ll follow up with additional training in the Eastern Panhandle “to get them to a certain caliber, and then they’ll continue their training as we start to do work down there,” McKechnie says. “We’re hoping they will go out on their own and find some sales leads and close those sales. We want to develop the entrepreneurial spirit so eventually they can go out on their own.”
McKechnie says he’s not worried about creating competitors because there’s plenty of work to go around.
“The public wants it and they can’t find it,” he says.
McKechnie uses only American-made solar panels, and representatives of his supplier, Oregon-based Solar World USA, are expected to be in Williamson on Thursday for the public unveiling of the project.
“We’re impressed with the focused enthusiasm and boldness of Mountain View Solar and Wind, and its partnership with The Jobs Project to spread the economic activity and financial savings of solar, and we want to do whatever we can to support and enhance the effort,” Solar World USA spokesman Ben Santarris said.
The rooftop array on the doctor’s office cost about $90,000 and McKechnie says it will produce 11.7 kilowatts of electricity, or enough to reduce utility costs by about 20 percent. The system should pay for itself in about seven years.
Getzen acknowledges many people can’t afford such an investment.
“It’s going to take a little while to get going,” he says.
But The Jobs Project is trying to figure out how to do projects without upfront capital. Already, he says, federal tax credits and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture can help reduce costs, and people can seek low-interest loans.
“I just hope that through this project,” Getzen says, “we find many more.”
Awesome! This shows that it’s possible & valuable to move communities beyond coal.
So yeah, I live about 10 minutes from where this was taken.
That same river is just across the street from my house, but it looks more like a creek where I am.
I swear this whole river’s haunted, but not unpleasantly so.
They’re acting like moonshine still isn’t around.
I’m in WV. Moonshine is pretty much a normal thing.
Apple pie flavored moonshine is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Ever.
The old Peach Ridge School House, near Hurricane, WV, as seen in 2007.
Ugh. Just realized that I won’t be able to go home for the foreseeable future… So, so homesick.
Anyway, this is really close to where I grew up. :)
Dacha/Staff Building, Gesundheit! Institute, Hillsboro, West Virginia, April 2004
When Dr. Patch Adams envisions the forty-bed rural community health care facility that he refers to as “the free silly hospital,” he hopes it will be “funny looking, full of surprises and magic.”
Adams’ desire to humanize healthcare has always taken radical form. From 1971 to 1983, he and nineteen other adults and their children moved into a six-bedroom home and called themselves a hospital. Three of the adults were physicians. They were continuously open to patients and saw fifteen thousand people over a period of twelve years. Initial doctor/patient interviews were three to four hours long, “so that we could fall in love with each other.” Since no donations were received, nor was there any outside funding, the staff eventually left and the hospital closed.
This led Adams to his present period of fundraising, which he often does in the guise of a clown. A three-hundred-acre farm has been purchased in West Virginia—chosen because it is the most medically under-served state in the nation— and two buildings have been constructed. The Dacha/Staff Building was designed by the Yestermorrow Design/Build School of Warren, Vermont.
Amongst numerous other unconventional practices, the hospital will not charge for its services and neither will it carry malpractice insurance. Healing arts such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, herbalism and faith healing will be integrated into patient care. Patients and staff will stay at the hospital, and forty beds will be available for “plumbers, string quartets and anyone wanting a service-oriented vacation,” reflecting Adams’ vision that the health of the individual cannot be separated from the health of the community. Although the free silly hospital is not yet built, the idea of it can and does influence the dialogue on health care delivery systems.
Deep in the mountains of West Virginia, the hard-fought victories of the labor movement have been worn away. That is, until retired miner and union organizer Sebert Pertee decides to confront divisions of race and class rekindled by the 2008 presidential campaign.
The images and history in this documentary short are both beautiful and intensely painful to see. I did not realize until watching it that in 2008, Obama won by 8% in McDowell County, WV, one of the poorest counties in the nation, thanks in large part to organizing by coal miners. It pains me to know that the same thing did not happen this time around.
I understand the fears and though it is frustrating to see people clinging so desperately to a dying and poisonous industry, I won’t blame them or cast any judgements. They’re afraid. Coal is all they’ve ever known. And because there’s so much poverty and lack of opportunity, mine jobs are the only viable option for many in certain areas of Appalachia. If coal disappears, so do the jobs. So I understand their fear. I just wish they could see that there are other ways. We can carve out new industries. We don’t have to be beholden to Big Coal forever. I want them to get angry. I want them to see that while Big Coal might employ them, it also keeps them down. It destroys our land and poisons our water. It kills mine workers, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Big Coal is not our friend. The industry is dying. It will happen regardless of who is sitting in the Oval Office. There has to be a better way.
Cross Lanes Valley Sunset. West Virginia. By: Joshua Hanna Photography & Design
Seriously, this is like 15 minutes from where I grew up. ♡
Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia, USA
We need everyone’s vote! West Virginia University (my alma mater) has submitted a panel featuring HOLLOW and 18 Days in Egypt for SXSW 2013 in Austin titled, “The People’s Voice: Story Through Their Lens.” We need everyone to sign up for the website (it’s simple) and cast your vote!
Our submission: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/156
Voting closes August 31 ; Programming announced October 15 (first round)
Please vote, share and help HOLLOW make it to SXSW :)
Thanks for your support!
Elaine & the HOLLOW team