From Charleston mountains to Charleston shores....
From the Charleston in the mountains of West Virginia to the Charleston on the shores of South Carolina I came to live. And my heart is shared by both homes. I grew up in the town of Barboursville, WV, a 30 minute drive to my grandparents and family in St. Albans WV, right outside the capital city, Charleston. I traveled to the coast nine years ago to make my home in Charleston, SC and I am grateful for my home here. But right now my heart is heavy for the beautiful people I grew up with and the gorgeous land that will always be my home.
I feel as "at home" exploring the woods as I do swimming wildly in the ocean waters. There is healing is the the earth below my feet, the song that the trees sing and the forest harmonises with, the breeze that brings the calm and the air that tastes like rain and earth. There is healing in the sands and the warm salty waters, in the baptism of salt and water that cleanses your spirit and revives your body and mind, in the air that you can taste and in the tides that remind me that everything is always changing but there is still a rhythm and balance that must exists.
I am creature of nature. I am a lover of nature. And so I believe it is my work to protect the earth, the land, the waters, the creatures, the people as best I know and am able to do with the choices I make and how I choose to use my voice. I believe it is all of our work.
How can it not be our work to protect our land, our waters and people? It is our job to educate ourselves and each other with the best ways to live healthy and create an environment that is safe and sustainable for right now and especially for our children and generations to come. It is our job to educate ourselves and each other on how to keep our land and water clean. We can learn how to do our part and we can make the choice everyday to do our best to make wise and healthy choices that protect the earth and provide us with the healthiest life we can live.
BUT, what happens when healthy water isn't an easily accessable choice? What if the water that comes into your tap is filled with chemicals that you can't pronounce and don't know what harm they could cause to your body and the earth? We live in a country where we should ALL be able to turn on our faucets and pour a glass of clean water but in my home in West Virginia the people can't safely drink their own water.
It has been almost 2 weeks since the chemical storage facility Freedom Industries had a chemical spill that contaminated the river and the water plant a mile downriver causing 300,000 homes (or more by now) to be contaminated . The people were not informed that there had been a leak until late in the day after the morning of the leak and then were told not to touch or drink the water. Many had already been affected by then. 5 days later they were told it was safe but it was far from safe and over 1,000 people were seen for illness or rashed caused by the water. The water was green and milky pouring out of the faucets. They later told pregnant women not to drink the water and days later, they were told that children shouldn't drink it either. How about NOONE should drink it!!!
My family was effected by the spill and they are still drinking bottled water and only using the water for flushing even they they are being told that it is safe to drink.
here are a few great articles on the chemical spill at Freedom Industries.
I should be shocked that "Environmental inspectors have not visited the Freedom Industries facility since 1991." and that "Under West Virginia law, chemicals storage facilities are not even subject to inspections." and that "The plant also had no groundwater protection plan in place." but I am not shocked because I know that that is just how it seems to go in the chemical valley of West Virginia.
Erin Brocovich came to town to help answer questions and make her presence know as a source of information and assistance for the people. I was happy about this because I feel that my friends and family in West Virginia are not being told the truth. They are not being protected and respected. I grew up in the woods of West Virginia building forts in the woods and drinking water from streams, waters that I know were contaminated even then by the chemicals dumped in the water from the big plants that line the river. As a child we would drive by the plants, "tiny cities" we called them, huge pillows of smoke filling the valley with a thick layer of chemical cloud and thousands of tiny lights lit it up. It looked like a futuristic world to us.
I am saddened and angry that there was such negligence on the part of Freedom Industries (who filed bankrupcy a week after the spill, only to be bailed out by their sister company) and from the envomental protection agency who didn't pay the plant a visit in 15 years. Where are the safety standards not only for employees but for the people who live near the plants? From fracking, to mountain top removal, to chemical plants leaking poison into the waters and land, the state of West Virginia is being abused by corporations and industries who take what they need from the state with little, if any regard for the people or land. And what do they give back to the state?
I hope that this disaster will not be swept under the rug and that the voices for change are loud and many! There will be good that comes out of this tragedy because I know that there are going to be people using their voices to stand up for what each one of us deserves: clean water, chemical free food, clean air and a safe place to live. I have to ask the question, could something like this ever happen in the Charleston I call home now? And if so would the reactions be different?
My heart is with my friends and family in West Virginia. I will do all I can to use my voice to shed light and a lot of LOVE on the beautiful state I am so proud to call my home! I am forever a mountain mama even though my toes are on the shore. I know we can all be a voice for change whether you live in Charleston WV, Charleston SC, NYC or New Orleans. Let your voice be heard. We can all play our part in great change!