Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thank you for putting together a place for people to share and read about Judy.
I wrote this up after looking back at an interview I did
I'd be honored if you include it in the on line memorial.
Jeff Young

In April, 2003, I spent the day with Judy, interviewing her for a profile for the public radio program Living on Earth. She had just won the prestigious Goldman Prize for her work with Coal River Mountain Watch.

We got in her car (leased, she said--she changed cars often so those who wished her harm wouldn’t see her coming) and went to see her old homestead land on Marfork Hollow.

“Every time I pass by this hollow, I look, and it hurts. It breaks my heart, because this is where I was born and raised.”

She parked and we walked around. Her family lived there six generations but it’s Massey’s land now. She showed me a walnut tree her father, a coal miner, had planted. She showed me the stream where she and later her grandchildren used to splash and play, back before it ran black with mine waste.

“The celebration of life was everyday, the connection everyday to the community and to the land, and to the rivers and the streams. This is innocence. And that's basically what we're trying to preserve, a connection to community, and to people, and to heritage, and culture, and to the environment.”

Pretty soon a security guard came along. He was polite, but the message was clear: leave. We drove to her group’s Whitesville office to look over a topo map of the region, the boundaries of pending mountaintop removal permits drawn on it. Judy’s green eyes scanned for the little crosses that indicate old family cemeteries, which might win a few hundred feet of buffer from the mining.

“They have to give some sort of protection to that cemetery,” she said. “Our dead ancestors are helping us to fight these coal companies, and are another way to put a chair against the door to keep the wolf out.”

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