Interview Series: Ben Stark At the End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington

Cross-posted from Appalachian Voices

Anna Jane Joyner is a rockin’ activist from North Carolina who just went on the We Love Mountains tour with a number of bands in order to harness the power of music to spread the word about mountaintop removal mining. She is one of the over 150 people who are here in Washington DC for our 6th Annual End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington. Anna Jane interviewed one of our other participants, Ben Stark from Grand Rapids, MI, and is a senior at Calvin College.

Week in Washington 2011 Participant- Ben Stark

1. Why are you here in DC for the Week in Washington?

Over the past two years, Restoring Eden, (a faith-based organization that works with Christian college students) introduced me to the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining. Since then our environmental group at Calvin College, the Environmental Stewardship Coalition, has really taken it on, especially with realizing the environmental justice connections and learning that some of our energy on campus comes from mountaintop removal coal. As a Christian, I am passionate about working towards justice and good stewardship and that means actively addressing areas where we’re not being good stewards of the earth and participating in systems that are harming our neighbors.

2. Why are you passionate about mountaintop removal?

In Michigan, we don’t have mountains- so the beauty and splendor of the Appalachian Mountains really struck me the first time I saw them. And more than just the beauty of the landscape, I feel drawn to Appalachian culture and want to stand in solidarity with the people of Appalachia as they fight for their mountains, health, and culture.

3. What is your favorite thing/important lesson/surprising aspect about the week in Washington so far?

Even though they’re hard to hear, I really value hearing the stories and struggles of coalfield residents.

4. Why do you think citizen activism is important?

Currently policy-making is way too driven by money and large corporations and not constituents’ needs and wants. Many people don’t know how important citizen activism is and how much of a difference we can really make by just reaching out and connecting with our elected officials. As a Christian and a young person, I recognize the importance of speaking out and engaging in the political process.

Anna Jane Joyner is from the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. In recent years, she has worked with people of faith across the country to end the tragedy of mountaintop removal, including leading Restoring Eden’s campaign to end mountaintop removal. These days, she’s a proud resident of Minnesota and is taking some time off to read, play, write, and hike. She remains a proud volunteer activist for Appalachian Voices and Restoring Eden and is stoked to be in DC this week working to protect the people, mountains, and streams of her Appalachian homeland.

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Interview Series: Ben Stark At the End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington

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