In the words of Coalfield’s own Brandon Dennison, “I recently had the remarkable and surreal opportunity to be part of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The place was abuzz with media, hot lights, and celebrities. I kept thinking of Dorothy: “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Well, I was most definitely not “out Wayne” anymore like on a normal workday.
So how did I start the day at my home in rural West Virginia and end it at Tribeca? A portion of the new National Geographic documentary From the Ashes covers some of the work we do here at Coalfield Development. Tribeca served as the world premier for the film. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the movie and spoke passionately about its importance. After the film, I participated in a panel discussion facilitated by the actor Edward Norton (who, somewhat ironically, is a board member of our first ever national funder dating back to 2012: Enterprise Community Partners). My hope was to help the audience understand our communities here in West Virginia. I wanted to show that while, yes, we are feeling great pain in the face of the coal industry’s decline, we are also hard at work. Great things, very creative endeavors, are afoot. We’re not just dying towns. We’re persistent problem-solving communities. We love our place and are steadfastly committed to it.
As we work to adapt, to diversify our economy and shape a better future, we need the country to believe in us. The country should not blame us for climate change. Miners only ever mined coal because there was demand for it. Most anyone who’s turned on a light switch is just a…s much to blame for climate change as a coalminer, if not more so. What’s needed now is not a blame game. What’s needed now is local solutions driven by local people. And then we need national and global investments to support our strategies. Mr. Bloomberg is doing just that. Incredibly, he announced $3 million in grant funding to support coal communities. We’re honored to be a grantee, and we hope others around the world will follow suit by investing in our region.