I have received two COR grants to help in the production of Goodbye Gauley Mountain. Below are the proposals.
Committee on Research
Faculty Research Grant Application 2008-2009
Title: Rebuilding a Mountain Amount Requested: $2041 Amount Received: $2000
The desire to engage in a project about mountaintop removal was inspired by a combination of influential events from this past year. The first was a lecture that Bell Hooks gave at UCSC where she clearly articulated the connection between feminism, race and the environment in a way that I had never heard so eloquently portrayed before. I was moved by how she spoke about the horrible practice of mountaintop removal and its devastating effects, not only on the landscape but also upon the people who live there. Secondly, I hired Newton Harrison to advise the art department on a graduate school proposal that will utilize whole system methods of studying and approaching environmental problems as art. He and his life partner Helen Mayer Harrison were early pioneers of environmental art and their work is extremely relevant to this era. Finally, the last time that I flew over my home state of West Virginia, I noticed that the damage from mountaintop removal to the landscape was much more severe than it had been just a year earlier. The need to bring attention to this situation is urgent. The long term goal of this project is to produce a community-based environmental artwork to raise awareness of the social and environmental abuses and irreversible damage caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. This grant would serve as seed money for the larger and ongoing project of reclaiming a mountain whose top has been blown off. The steps required to lay the groundwork for this goal are: 1. Two 10 day trips to Appalachia where mountaintop removal is used to mine coal, in order to fully assess the situation and to talk to the people who are involved. My initial trip would take place in August 2008. I would return in the spring or early summer of 2009 to produce photographs and to interview community members. 2. Meet with individuals in mining industry as well as lawyers and activists who are engaged in environmental activism. These meetings will serve as an opportunity to be further educated about both sides of the political, cultural and economic debates surrounding mountaintop removal. 3. I will meet with as many of the members of the communities affected by this practice. Mountaintop removal happens in the poorest regions of Appalachia. There is a great deal of conflict between those who desperately need the few jobs provided by big mining (and its supporting industries) and those community members who oppose mountain top removal. A good friend of mine who lives in West Virginia described it as the new “civil war.” All over this region family members are on opposite sides of this debate, as are friends and neighbors. These differences are causing a great deal of strife in Appalachian communities that are already crippled by poverty. 4. Consult with experts in the fields of land reclamation, environmental sciences and biology as well as social workers and other cultural institutions to help empower the communities in the area to be able to advocate for the kind of environment they want their children to inherit. 5. Finally, we must find a suitable project site and owners who would be willing to let us use it for this project. The artists will design the final project with the local communities and in consultation with the owners of the land. A reclamation company in conjunction with government or nonprofit agencies, in an effort to make some of these leveled mountains usable land again, would execute the physical work. If we succeed, it will be a miracle. The final work will take the form of a large-scale site- specific work that will attempt to reintroduce bio diversity to a mountain that has had its top removed. This would serve both as a model of how art and artists can work with communities and possibly with big coal to affect large systems that have been devastated. As with more conventional art exhibitions, photographs, writings and other documentation will be exhibited in galleries and museums. This is the kind of large- scale, culturally engaged work that will leverage external funding. The Harrisons will be advising me throughout this process.
Budget Item: $ 1342. . . . . . 2 round trip tickets to Charleston, West Virginia @ $671 Budget Item: $ 199.95. . . . . . MP3-playing ICD-SX57DR9 Sony Digital Recorder
Justification of Budget Items (if not covered in project description) Two 10 day trips to the area in Appalachia would allow me to start gathering the information and documentation necessary to attract further funding for this reclamation project This time would also enable me to begin talking to all of the parties involved in both sides of this debate. A digital recorder would allow me to easily interview my subjects. Additional Budget Items (above the standard grant amount) Budget Item: $ 500. . . . . . Research Assistant $10 per hour, 5 hours per wk, 10 weeks Budget Item: $ . . . . . . Budget Item: $ . . . . . . Budget Item: $ . . . . . . Budget Item: $ . . . . . . Budget Item: $ . . . . . . Justification for Additional Budget Items A research assistant is necessary for me to archive and print photographs as well as to archive the interviews I would make. This person would also aid me in gathering information about mountaintop removal and various methods of reclamation. Human Subjects Information Review is not required