Dear Friend and OVEC Supporter,
As these strange and stressful days continue, I hope you are staying safe and well. Like many, I could never have imagined a year such as the one through which we are now living—a year that has rightly and forcefully exposed the consequences of environmental neglect, racial injustice, and political corruption, as each one has played its role in the current contagion that haunts us. I’ve never seen so clearly how critical and urgent is the demand to safeguard our environment as the foundation upon which all future security depends, including our personal health.
However, though the threats to the environment and basic justice are grave, there is also hope, and one place to find it is in the courageous work of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. I am inviting you to join me in making sure their efforts to demand that the powerful heed the call to justice in all its forms continues with vigor and ever-increasing strength. This call for justice includes protection for all creation from the tiniest lizard to the highest mountain, from the landowner’s small but precious farmstead huddled below Kayford Mountain to those who are threatened by the entangled forces of corporate bullying and racism. Following the murder of George Floyd, Emily Atkin wrote in a June 2 blog on Heated, “Racial justice is climate justice. That means police reform is climate policy.” I’ve never been more convinced that she is right.
We are living in interesting times, but that doesn’t mean they have to be cursed times; they can also present an opportunity for positive change. For more than 30 years, OVEC has been working to make life better in numerous ways. And, whether or not OVEC has won on a particular issue, it has been in the thick of the fight and has always reliably and forcefully borne witness. We desperately need this articulate, intelligent, and passionate organization to continue witnessing, raising awareness of the threats assailing our environment and communities, and calling people to action.
Thank you to all of OVEC’s supporters. Your kind and beneficent giving has helped lead the struggle against the minimally regulated fracking industry and helped the larger world see the potential for a just transition away from fossil fuels to sustainable renewables. You’ve supported an organization that recognizes that environmental justice is inextricably linked to social and economic justice. You’ve helped restore a sense of community and build alliances to strengthen existing communities. But there is much more work to be done.
Elie Wiesel famously wrote, “Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.” Thankfully, OVEC supporters are not indifferent, and I urge you to continue championing its work as volunteers, organizers, and financial supporters. Although these are uncertain financial days for many of us, there’s never been a time so urgent. Please, dig deep into your pockets and help insure that OVEC not only endures but also grows, expanding its legacy of care and, yes, love for our land and our people.
Poet Laureate of West Virginia
About Marc Harshman
OVEC member Marc Harshman has been poet laureate of West Virginia since 2012. His Woman in Red Anorak won the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize published in 2018 by Lynx House/University of Washington Press. His preceding title, Believe What You Can [WVU Press] won the Weatherford Award from the Appalachian Studies Association. His fourteenth children’s book, Fallingwater, co-authored with Anna Smucker, was published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan in 2017. He is co-winner of the 2019 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. We are proud to call him a member!
If you have recently donated, thank you! Please pass this letter along to a potential new member. After all, there’s power in numbers. It’s easy to join at ohvec.org/join. There, you will see that we have a membership-fee waiver in effect right now for anyone who is suffering financially due to the pandemic.
As a reminder, note that you can provide additional support to OVEC at no cost to you through your Kroger Plus Card by choosing OVEC as your charity of choice (you must renew your charity choice yearly). See ohvec.org/kroger.
But what do my membership dues and donations fund?
Please be certain to see our newsletters, actions alerts, and blogs, as well as our social media accounts, to find out what we’ve been up to recently. Or give us a call and talk to us: 304-522-0246; we are always happy to speak with you.
Here’s one recent highlight we are bursting to share with you: Thanks to OVEC super-volunteer, Dr. Randi Pokladnik, Al Gore mentioned OVEC as part of the global 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future that Gore hosted with The Climate Reality Project and TED. Randi was one of four community members from around the world who told her story, making the connection between petrochemicals and climate change. See her talk here.
You can frequently find out what we’ve been up to by following the news. Our executive director was quoted in an inaugural article for the new Mountain State Spotlight: Governor’s coal company may get a break from WVDEP on water pollution fines. Some of our recent coalition work has been generating shareable headlines, too. For instance, from the Columbus Dispatch: Permits for storage wells tied to Ohio River Valley petrochemical buildout canceled; from the Coal Valley News: W.Va. environmental, social justice groups release climate change guide; and from Law 360: Green Groups Call EPA Chemical Emissions Rule ‘Weak’ (not only that, we sued!).
There’s so much more we’d be happy to tell you about, so do reach out, or watch out for news for us. Everything we do is made possible by donors and volunteers like you!
The staff and board of OVEC