Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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August 2009

Floods ... Again
OVEC Organizer Wins International Recognition with Green Nobel
JOBS and Energy Answers for Our WV Mountain Communities
Picnic for Green JOBS
MTR Mining Equipment Taken Off Gauley Mountain For Now
Board Adds Conditions to Disputed Fayette County Mine Permit
Lets Make Sure the Transition to a Clean, Green Energy Future in WV is a Peaceful One
Calling All Potential New OVEC Board of Directors Members!
Congress Doesnt Always Want to Come CLEAN
The CLEAN Citizens Leading For Energy Action Now
American Clean Energy Security Act: Coal Rewarded
Good Gosh, We Could Have Used That Money to Jump Start the Clean Energy Future in America!
Slurry Lawsuit Settlers Frustrated With Wait for Money
Mountains Aided With First-Ever Fundraising Concert in North Carolina
Sludge Safety Project Legislative Session Wrap-Up
DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin
OVEC Organizer Testifies at Senate MTR Hearing
Thanks for All the Volunteers Who Helped After the Floods
Fighting For Our Ancestors Resting Places
Lobbying for Green Jobs in DC
Growing Movement Demands Protection for Mountains, Climate, Humanity
Environmental Groups Ask EPA to Take Over WV Pollution Permitting
Byrds Eye View: Staffers Get Close-Up Views of Mountain Range Removal
A Good Win in A Critical Federal Court Case Against MTR
Judicial Bill Pulled by Governor
Supreme Court Case Makes WV A National Laughingstock
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Photovoice Participants Capture their Communities in Images
Photovoice Exhibitions Well Covered By Local and Statewide Media
You Dont Have to Go to Copenhagen to Make a Difference
Obama and Mountaintop Removal Mining: The Roller Coaster Ride
New CD Celebrates Coalfield Resistance to Mountaintop Removal
Blair Mountain and the National Register of Historic Places
Ashford Yesterday, Today and Maybe Tomorrow?
Come Home to West Virginia? Buyer Beware!
Louv-ley Day in Charleston
Who Are They Kidding?
Web Extras:
Open Letter to Governor Manchin about Blair Mountain
Matewan, West Virginia

For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

Winds of Change Newsletter, August 2009     See sidebar for table of contents

Photovoice Participants Capture their Communities in Images

by Sara Busse, excerpted from April 12, 2009, Charleston Gazette

Maryland native Shannon Bell worked in the Mountain State for several years before heading to Oregon for graduate school. The images of Southern West Virginia stayed in her mind and tugged at her heart, urging her to come back to West Virginia to capture these images in some form.

That form is Photovoice. In September 2008, Bell gave digital cameras to 40 women from five communities in Southern West Virginia and asked them to take pictures to tell the story of their communities.

Each group met monthly for eight months to share their photographs, discuss common themes, create "photo stories" (photographs with written narratives), and develop project ideas to address problems they identified. Bell participated in the meetings, giving the women guidelines to organize their photographs and stories.

A selection of 100 photos and accompanying stories was presented in an exhibit at the Clay Center in Charleston from April 15 19.

Many of the women identified problems within their communities, and the project empowered them to visit their lawmakers to discuss the problems as well as to offer solutions and suggestions for community development.

"Its a neat way to communicate with policymakers," Bell explained of the Photovoice project. "Its empowering to the local people, as they got to say what their problems are instead of some outsider coming in and telling them."

"Photographs elicit a visceral reaction," Bell said. "The pictures impressed the legislators more than just facts and figures."

Joanne Frame, 59, and her daughter-in-law Tammy learned that firsthand. They took photographs of the deteriorating roads in Boone County.


Photovoice Sponsors

Photovoice was made possible through generous support from Cabin Creek Health Systems, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, West Virginia Development Office/Appalachian Regional Commission Flex-E-Grant Program, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, University of Oregon Sociology Department, Photographic Production Services and the Clay Center.

"I was always so backward and all, but this encouraged me to speak up. I wanted to show the beauty of Boone County but wanted to show things that werent so pretty, like the roads," Frame said.

The Frames set up appointments with Delegate Ralph Rodighiero and Sen. Ron Stollings.

"These photo stories and Joanne and Tammys visit made quite an impression on these two legislators," Bell said. "The roads in that area had not been paved in over 25 years. The next day, as a temporary fix, the crews started patching the roads that Tammy, Joanne and others had photographed." More permanent work is planned.

"I felt that we really accomplished something that day," Frame said. "I thought, Well, theyll just forget us, but theyve kept in contact, and theyve called me several times." Stollings called Frame last week to let her know a six mile stretch of WV. 85, one of the worst roads the women photographed, was to be totally repaved this summer.

Many of the participants voiced concerns about the environment.

Kathy Stout expressed her fears about a coal mines slurry injection site behind her house in Cabin Creek.

Jane Linville took photos of fish she believes are toxic, caught in a stream near her home in Pond Fork.

Women from all five community groups took photos of litter along the roadsides and in popular dumping spots in their areas.

"They would like to see the Legislature pass a bottle deposit law because they feel that it would help clean up their communities," Bell said.

"Every time a participant created a photo story dealing with their desire for a bottle deposit, I printed it off and gave it to them so that they could mail it to the governor and to their legislators," she said.

"Many of them also called or e-mailed their legislators about the need for a bottle deposit."


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