Saturday, April 14, 2012

Collateral Damage

I've spent the past week searching for sources of grant money for our neighborhood association. Some of you will remember that MM and I have spearheaded an effort to organize our neighborhood around the concepts of "doing good" in our community. With that mandate, we've taken on a number of projects all of which will require funds and effort.  That has led me to explore a whole array of possibilities.

I came across a familiar name: the Annenberg Foundation. I'm sure you've all heard of it.  It's often mentioned on NPR. AF funds all manner of significant worthy projects. Curious as to what these would be I followed the search still further until I came to!/videos/player/west-virginia-special (You'll have to cut and paste this one as it doesn't seem to what to link through Blogger.  Cutting and pasting works, though.)

The video is compelling. Having driven those very roads (shown in the film), myself, giving kitchen shows "down in the coalfields" I found it to be especially resonant.

The Annenberg Foundation is funding a large chunk of the Marsh Fork Elementary School. Certainly you remember Massey Energy and the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster... Yes. That's the one. Killed 29 miners.  April 4, 2012 marked the second anniversary of the explosion.  And called into question the possibility of another, potentially lethal implosion of the coal slurry reservoir behind the Marsh Fork Elementary school.  For years the Coal River community has been fighting the likes of Massey Energy to get the school moved before 700+ students are killed.  With the help of Annenberg Foundation, the community is on its way to a new school in a new location.

Go here for more information:

As I said above, throughout the eight years during which I peddled Pampered Chef, I always made a few trips to the coalfields.  There, I met wonderful people, incredibly bonded and supportive of one another--families who welcomed me into their neat-as-a-pin homes with love and caring. Modest neighborhoods populated with equally modest, kind people who love their families and their land. It is, as the film mentions, a "brotherhood" but also--though not mentioned-- a sisterhood, as well. The people all share the burden of the danger they face daily.  It's a load carried without question, silently, continuously.

I recommend taking a few moments to watch this documentary--especially if you value human life, quality of living...and more. For me, the poignant message came with mention of the term "collateral damage." People shouldn't have to make abusive choices between life and livlihood for the sake of the profiteers. This is not right.  It never has been.  But today, there are lots of other ways to get the energy we need, provide respectable, good-paying jobs, and maintain health and happiness. 

I encourage you to think about where your electricity comes from and start thinking about creating a more responsible approach.  We need a just society in terms of who carries the real burdens and who benefits at no cost to themselves.  What right have we to demand others suffer to produce what we take for granted and waste...?  We need to be exploring solar, windpower,'s time to revamp the way we're doing things in this country and demand an end to collateral damage living.


  1. Good, no make that GREAT, post Elora. You have touched on what economists call "externalized costs," that is, costs that are borne by someone other than those who benefit. (I understood the concept many years before I learned its name!) Having spent most of my professional career at the interface of energy and environment, I know there are NO sources of energy that are without environmental or health costs. You have mentioned one of the issues dear to those in my field, fairness. The other is minimizing health and environmental costs. Some sources of energy in some applications are simply less damaging than others, and should be selected. Damage can be minimized or mitigated in the others at a cost, in profits and in the price of electricity. But someone has to be minding the store, passing and enforcing the laws that protect people and their environment. That's why everyone's vote is so important. Ultimately, that's the only way we can effectively protect our future. Jim

  2. Hello Elora - Your research for funding will take time. At one point in my working life I wrote grants -- back when grants were more available. There used to be many sources that one could find at the local and state level -- also small commercial places that would be sympathetic to your goals. If your state has a regional planning office they might have a grant writer on staff that could help. Good luck with your endeavors -- barbara

  3. Hey, Barbara!

    Lovely to hear from you, girl! I believe people's perceptions are that grants are no longer available...not so. You do have to write them carefully, accept the responsibility of shepherding the funds rec'd through to completion of the proposal project, and research carefully before contacting a potential funder to determine the potential funders who share the goals you have. I am finding a good many. Keeping in mind, of course, that even though the economy has soured somewhat, there are funds that must be given every year. There are those who support causes that dovetail with their own philosophies. Foundations and corporations, along with Federal grantmakers, can't simply pull the rug out because there's a downturn in the economy. Grant-based money develops over years. I know I will be a busy grantwriter in the next few months/years! Our treasurer has written several for the historical preservation of a 1700's house in our community. She's been very successful in getting what we consider significant amounts of grant funding. All in all, I am very hopeful that once we have established a track record, we will be among those the grant-makers choose to work with. Perhaps most important is persistence.

    Thanks so much for the words of wisdom!


  4. Oh, Jim! Thank you so much for your kind words. Of course it's a tiny drop in a big bucket. Society seems to have transformed itself from one that, at one time, had at least a modest amount of compassion for others, into a mostly mean-spirited, angry, and self-centered mob. What happened to statesmanship? Looking out for others less fortunate than ourselves? It is so discouraging and sad, really.