Celebrating the Ground Beneath Our Hearts

Contact: Tonya Adkins, 304-522-0246

CHARLESTON, WV –— If solastalgia is getting to you, you are not alone, and you are invited to join in an international event to do something about it.

Solastalgia is the pain you feel when the place you live in and love is under assault. Although coined by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht, the meaning of the word resonates around the world for people whose homes have been irrevocably changed and damaged by industrial practices.

For many Appalachian people, it is mountaintop removal coal mining and deep shale fracking activities that are causing deeply felt sadness and a sense of loss. Even as we grieve, there is much worthy of joy and celebration. We have a strong attachment to and genuine love of the culture and heritage of our region –— the things that keep us here, even in the face of industrial-scale pollution and landscape obliteration.

To simultaneously acknowledge the grief we feel for the assault on our homes and to celebrate our love of our homeplaces, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia and the WV Chapter of the Sierra Club are partnering with the organization Radical Joy for Hard Times for The Ground Beneath Our Hearts.

Held on September 12The Ground Beneath Our Hearts will be “a global spectacle to honor the creativity, dignity, and resilience of people living in communities affected by mining and oil and gas development,” according to Radical Joy for Hard Times.

Events are being planned in such diverse locations as Australia, Colombia, Canada, South Africa, the Philippines, and Northern Ireland. The groups will host an Appalachian event at Kanawha State Forest (Shelter #6), beginning at 11:00 a.m.

Participants are asked to bring items from the places close to their hearts; an item with a story or meaning that they can share briefly with other attendees, such as a quilt, a piece of pottery, a rock or flower, a keepsake –— anything that has personal and cultural meaning. The items will be transformed into a beautiful “celebration sculpture” by the participants as they share in song and story. (The personal items will be returned at the end of the celebration.)

“This sharing will be a very important part of the day –— celebrating the things we love about our heritage, while acknowledging that places of great beauty have been lost,” says Carol Warren, who is helping to organize the event for OVEC. “An important part of grieving is knowing that you are not alone, and that’s important for organizing for change, too. After the event, people will have new connections and new inspiration for improving their communities.”

Award-winning musician John Kusiak and his son Jackson Kusiak have composed a song, “The Ground Beneath our Hearts,” especially for the worldwide observances. The song will be sung as a closing piece at the event, and will be filmed to become part of a documentary, stitched together with other Ground Beneath Our Hearts celebrations from various places around the world.

The hashtag for social media for The Ground Beneath Our Hearts is #HeartGround. For more information, see www.radicaljoyforhardtimes.org and www.ohvec.org.


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