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Packaging sustainability for coal miners in Virginia

“In Washington, they sometimes say that those of us in Appalachia need help because we’re not very smart. Well, we’re smart enough to know that only God can change the Earth’s temperature – not Al Gore.” -Classic quote from a Coal Mining CEO at “Friends of America” rally in Virginia this weekend.

The local Charleston Gazzette has their review of the event here, but the soundclip from the above quote should end up on “Soundtrack for the Endtimes” cd somewhere on cable television.

from the Gazzette-Kathy Fraser (left) of Ashland, Ky., and Debra Ray of Milton cheer on Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and his condemnation of the current presidential administration.

from the Gazzette-Kathy Fraser (left) of Ashland, Ky., and Debra Ray of Milton cheer on Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and his condemnation of the current presidential administration.

An all-star event, speakers at the Holden, VA event included coal company execs, local politicians, media darling Sean Hannity, and rocker/ass-kicker/name-taker Ted Nugent.

As I continue to argue, acceptance of and action in response to issues of sustainability is less an issue of data available, and “evidence,” but of culture.  Research has made things quite clear, and would have done so far earlier (when effective response would have been more feasible) if our global culture been more receptive years ago.  To think that everyone in this nation, or other nations, might realize the error of their massive industries and lifestyles in the matter of a generation, is asking quite a lot.

And we must ask a lot.  We must ask the very most of ourselves and our neighbors.  It means changing minds and hearts, not just presenting evidence to the masses.  Research findings will fall on deaf ears if a community maintains a worldview in which such evidence is incompatible.  It will continue to be seen as mistaken or malicious, foolish or destructive.

These concepts of restraint and responsibility are indeed threatening to the very livelihoods of those in attendance at this rally.  More so, they are in many ways a threat to the worldviews fostered within these communities.

One local as quoted in the Gazzette- “Without [coal], we’d be in the dark. And it keeps all the other businesses going, too. [The Massey mines down the road] are what keeps us going.”

It’s not just about the jobs.  It’s about generations of a world-view being threatened by people of “the other” who appear to be forcing change… (as indeed change is desperately needed and long overdue.)

There’s a sentiment that the basic validation of their spiritual beliefs and heritage are being threatened.

And without resolving this conflict, efforts toward environmental responsibility may in fact inflame relations and provoke further reactionary, anti-productive gestures by the communities who take insult.

It’s about the message… the package…. and the context… A transition to sustainable enterprise and community building needs to be framed correctly for each population targeted… What flies in Boston, MA won’t fly in Holden, VA, and the better each of us is able to navigate this bridge, the more effective we’ll be in acting as responsible global citizens.

Posted in Politics/Legislation, Sustainability, Sustainable Business.

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