Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Action Alert
Supporting Organized Voices and
Empowered Communities Since 1987
Jul 21, 2020 View / Comment Online

Dear {contact.email_greeting},

I hope this letter finds you safe and as steady as possible as we confront two deadly diseases in our midst—one new by the name of COVID-19, and one that been on these soils for more than 400 years, going by several names including slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, police brutality, and white supremacy: a disease also known as structural racism.

I started to draft this letter months ago; now, it looks a lot different. Now I’m writing you in a time of global emergency and national reckoning. A time of more uncertainty than most of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

Ann Pancake with her dogs at Seneca Rocks Ann and her dogs at Seneca Rocks in WV.

This is a difficult time to ask for donations, with so many losing jobs, businesses going under, and so many deserving organizations that need financial assistance. But I believe the kind of work that OVEC is doing is essential to our very existence. I’m reminded of the oxygen mask metaphor: you have to put yours on before you can help others. We have to get the oxygen mask on the Earth before we can tend to anything else.

Your amazing generosity and support over the years—for which I extend my deep gratitude—has helped OVEC’s work to confront issues of environmental in?justice. OVEC first sounded the alarm on the fracked-gas industry’s plans to build the “Appalachian Storage Hub.” They are now working with a wide network of allies to stop this petrochemical/plastics build-out here in the Ohio River Valley, as well as any further expansion of the industry in communities of color in what is dubbed “Cancer Alley” in the Gulf South. OVEC’s work is about doing their part to slow climate change and defend our waters. The work centers on communities and defends the land and waters that sustains those communities.

I’ve been an OVEC member for twenty years. I met the folks at OVEC in 2000 when my sister Catherine was making a film about mountaintop removal, and I began to write a novel about it. The contacts and the knowledge OVEC gave us made my book possible.

As I’ve taken up new projects, OVEC has tirelessly assisted me with networking, photographs, data, and endless enthusiasm. I’ve never asked them for anything that they haven’t provided within a couple days, and most often within a couple hours.

In this time of upheaval, there’s also tremendous opportunity for change, and OVEC models for us how we can move forward with patience, courage, faith, and hope. OVEC offers a vision where we emerge from this time with a transformed culture and economy, where all people and the planet itself are valued and respected, and where we are immensely closer to our ideal of justice for all. That’s what OVEC has been working toward for more than thirty years.

With your help, they have fought marathon battles and weathered long-term storms. They have carried on even after personal losses of some of the best human beings I’ve ever known. Through it all, they have continued to advocate for and protect the Earth and vulnerable people. Their resourcefulness and stamina, imagination and compassion, are qualities we’re all being asked to find in ourselves in the upcoming months and years.

Although it’s sometimes difficult to remember when our attention is absorbed by the crises we face, significant progress is indeed happening in the environmental justice realm—progress that OVEC has been laying the groundwork for since they began. Renewables are finally about to overtake coal. The oil and gas industries are stumbling, and people are rediscovering the solace, and perhaps the sacredness, of the outdoors.

As we stand at the crossroads of the cleaner, greener future we’ve been fighting for so long, our support enables OVEC to leverage the opportunities turning points always generate.

Please join me in making a tax-deductible contribution; donate here or mail a check to:

PO Box 6753
Huntington, WV 25773-6753

Thank you so very much, and wishing you all good health and well-being as we continue working together to protect this beautiful world.


Ann Pancake

West Virginia native Ann Pancake is a fiction writer and essayist, and long-time OVEC member. She has published short stories and essays describing the people and atmosphere of Appalachia, often from the first-person perspective of those living here.