The Notebook (Issue 19)

The week of August 22, 2022

Appalachian Mountains from PBS Documentary, Inside Appalachia

The degradation of the environment has revealed itself to be tragically consequential to communities across Eastern Kentucky. In late July, torrential rains swept through the mountain region destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. The flooding - not to mention its toxic waste - has not only left an untold number of families destitute, but has claimed the lives of nearly 40 residents. 

In President Biden’s latest visit to the state after the widespread floods were declared a State of Emergency, he proclaimed the preventability of these natural disasters. President Biden called on Kentuckians and leaders of the nation to recognize the critical relationship between climate change and tragedies such as these which has reiteratively resulted in the recurrent destruction of lives, homes, livelihoods and historic communities.  

In this edition of The Notebook, we are sharing the words of brilliant Kentucky activists and authors Beth Howard and Silas House. Ultimately, they, too, remind us of the unmistakable interconnectedness between the environment and our communities’ health. 

As we often reflect on stewardship, the opportunity presents itself to hold ourselves accountable for supporting our neighbors and our land. Humbly, we request your participation in not only sustaining long-term change in politics to ensure environmental protection, but also ask you to consider joining immediate efforts to support Eastern Kentucky flood relief initiatives. Below you will find ways to donate your time or resources.  

As always, we are tremendously grateful for your commitment to securing a healthier, more harmonious world by starting right here in your backyard.

How to Volunteer (From Home!) & Where to Donate to Assist Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Efforts: We’ve been keeping a pulse on the community response from organizers in the region and while they are focusing their efforts on assisting people on the ground, there is an urgent immediate need for volunteers from outside the region to reach out to directly impacted people to process and evaluate financial assistance applications with the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky’s Crisis Fund. (This financial assistance includes any immediate needs that people may have in terms of food, shelter, clothing, transportation, etc.)

All volunteering will take place virtually, so this is a perfect opportunity to show up for eastern Kentucky in a very real, tangible way. Making these calls are easy and often incredibly rewarding. Volunteers can assist in one of two ways: 

  • Phone Banking: Take financial assistance applications over the phone. A training video will be sent to all volunteers.

  • Application Evaluation: Evaluate financial assistance applications currently in the system. Training will be provided. 

Please consider signing up AND sharing this volunteer opportunity with your networks:

Climate change makes Appalachian life even harder.” 

While describing the rampant resource exploitation of Eastern Kentucky, Silas House investigates the deeply personal relationship Appalachians have with their homelands. House, in his latest article for The Washington Post, laments both the assumption that Appalachians “should just leave” and the regular neglect of politicians who rely on the region’s voting base, but refuse to ensure direct aid. 

House also writes for Garden and Gun on the efforts to preserve the Hindman Settlement School. A bastion of preservation and cultivation for Appalachian arts, Hindman was recently ravaged by the floods. The author and his colleagues work to preserve what remains. 

“Keep your scorn. Kentucky needs your solidarity.” — Beth Howard, lifelong Eastern Kentuckian and activist, reflects on the vitriol she’s seen spread across social media directed at the Appalachians impacted by the floods. Many, she shares, suggest that perhaps Appalachians deserve the floods based on whom they’ve voted for. She calls on Democrats, especially the white Democrats who have generated so much of the cruel content, to lean into compassion and “connect” instead. More food for thought here. 

“Strip Mining Worsened the Severity of Deadly Kentucky Floods, Say Former Mining Regulators. They Are Calling for an Investigation.” An expert federal mine safety engineer has calculated that run-off caused by stripmining has increased by 1000x in areas of Kentucky and West Virginia. Other experts agree, noting that many Kentucky mining companies have fallen far behind the pace of reclamation required for strip mining sites - a process which would have facilitated stabilization on impacted lands. To continue reading, follow this link

GLAD Reunion: Celebrating the Ministry and Legacy of John R. Claypool:
As part of the church’s William M. Johnson Lecture Series, come celebrate and explore the ministry of The Rev. Dr. John R. Claypool—pastor, preacher, theologian, teacher, and advocate for civil rights and women’s leadership in the church, at the Glad Reunion Weekend, Sept. 16-18, at Crescent Hill Baptist Church. To register, or for more information, click this link, or call 502-896-4425.

NOTE: Those planning to attend Friday night and/or Sunday morning do not need to register and there is no charge. Events held on Saturday and/or the banquet Saturday evening require registration and fees.

The Kentucky Author Forum hosted by the University of Louisville invites you to its spotlight event on September 29th at the Bomhard Theater. The event features a conversation about China with The Wall Street Journal’s China Deputy Bureau Chief, Josh Chin, Gerald Loeb Award winner and author of Surveillance State: Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control with Evan Osnos, a regular CNN Contributor and Pulitzer prize winning journalist. Osnos is also the 2014 National Book Award Winner and Pulitizer finalist for his book Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. You can read more about the Kentucky Author Forum and purchase tickets to this event via this link.

Speed Cinema Presents: Dark Waters Film Screening, Panel, & Book Signing 
FREE, September 18, 3-5pm

Dark Waters is inspired by a true story of one man—Rob Bilott—and his decades-long battle against big chemical companies who have been poisoning us and our communities. Bilott, a tenacious attorney (played by Mark Ruffalo), is approached to take on a case by farmers who believe that PFAS, also known as Forever Chemicals, was dumped by Dupont in a nearby landfill destroying their fields and killing their cattle. While trying to expose the truth, he soon found himself risking his future, his family, and his own life. Co-starring Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, and Bill Pullman. 

Moderated by Nima Kulkarni, Attorney and Kentucky State Representative, District 40, the post-screening panel includes Rob Bilott, Esq., Partner in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky offices of the law firm Stettinius & Hollister LLP; Elijah Yetter-Bowman, Director of Angel of Alabama and GenX: A Chemical Cocktail; Samantha Bauer, Ethereal Films; Jamie Lynn Young, PhD, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute. Bilott will also be signing copies of his book Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyers’ Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont for sale in the Speed Cinema lobby before and after the event. More info here. 

“Life Of Black Journalist Daniel Rudd Challenges Church To Racial Equality” —  Pioneering Black journalist Daniel Rudd continues to be recognized nationally for his work as a ground-breaking voice in Catholicism. For the latest update, check out this article from the National Catholic Reporter.  

Turkish Zero Waste Project Reflects Massive Nationwide Results. A bit of encouraging news out of Turkey has revealed the nation’s Zero Waste Project has mitigated 3.9 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, prevented 347 million trees from being felled, and has returned $3.48 billion dollars into the Turkish economy. This is in addition to diverting millions of tons of paper, plastic, and waste from landfills. For more on the initiative’s impressive accomplishments, take a peek at this article from The Optimist

Support Local Farmers - Shop Locally Produced Fruits, Vegetables, And Meats! — A friendly reminder you can  purchase fresh, local produce and meats from Oldham County’s Rootbound Farm. The shop is packed with a wide range of delicious selections. To stock up on excellent quality foods or to simply learn more about Rootbound Farm, visit their webpage.
Save the Date: Festival of Faiths — November 9-12. The nationally acclaimed Festival of Faiths is back for its 26th year! This year’s theme, Sacred Stories: Contemplation and Connection, will focus on the power of both ancient and modern narratives as they inform, influence, and inspire living intentionally in our complex world. To sign-up for email updates, click here.
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