Advocating for a Sustainable Future - Fall 2016

Faculty: Allen Olson and Nancy A. Parkes

Two Visual Representations

Two Visual Data Posts


Starting over

“My family’s life changed forever.  In the course of one night, a fire consumed our home and everything we owned.  As we sifted through the remains, we began to reflect and re-evaluate.  I realized that the best life I could… Continue Reading →

Making rural communities desirable places to live (Critical Reading 2) Anita G.

When I read the article “Putting Down Roots” in the Yes Magazine, the topic really struck home with me. I was interested in finding another article (Making Rural Communities Desirable Places to Live) that discussed how investing in small rural… Continue Reading →

How far can we get without flying?

I’ve become a fan of YES! Magazine.  This non-profit, independent, subscriber supported magazine is full of news that inspired me and gave me hope.  I appreciate that this magazine was developed and is currently supported on Bainbridge Island here in… Continue Reading →

Critical Reading of “Bringing Young People Back to the City”

Among the articles in the second half of YES!, this one caught my attention immediately. Essentially it describes a set of related problems in Cleveland, Ohio–poverty, unemployment, and population decline among others–and a possible solution: making the city more attractive… Continue Reading →

A Coal Miner’s Goodbye

Image result for virginia coal mines

Summary by: Ali Johnson

A Coal Miner's Goodbye deals with a father choosing between the continuation of family history in the Virginia coal mines, or a healthier and different lifestyle for his family. The essay, written by Nick Mullins is a testament to embracing a new and sustainable future. Many new families and millennials are taking this idea to heart as the coal industry continuously fails and climate change is here. 

"I just knew that we could do something different, that we had to for our children's sake" (pg.34.) 

According to The Atlantic people in Appalachia are beginning to think about a post coal economy. Lawmakers in Kentucky are gaining government assistance to create programs that retrain willing coal miners for jobs in computer coding, customer service, and healthcare. In 2013 Kentucky Democratic Govenor Steve Beshear and Republican Congressman Hal Rogers held a conference called SOAR, "Shaping our Appalachian Region" where a wide range of folks came and discussed possible alternatives to a coal economy.

I personally think this is a great strategy towards a movement out of poverty. Discussing what people in your region want, need, and can envision is a powerful method of expressing self determination. When people are invested in social change, that is when it's most likely to happen. This article was a good way for me to reflect on social movements and environmental justice.

“It’s not that anybody hates this place, it’s just that they don’t want to see their family suffer.” -Ada Smith of Letcher County, from The Atlantic

As for Nick Mullins the Virginian Father, he is now traveling the United States and Canada telling their personal story of transitioning away from coal and on to a different and healthier lifestyle. Nick and his wife now attend Berea College and live more simply hoping to teach his children that a better life with less "things" is possible. 


From these two articles I am left wanting the perspective of a longtime coal miner, and not a reporter or younger generation. I want this because the social and economic climate of coal in Appalachia that is being described in both articles in one they have helped create and therefore are likely more of an expert on. Overall I was reminded of the abuse the Appalachian region has faced by the boom and bust economy of mining, government exploitation and negligence. 

Picture Found Here

Summary by: Ali Johnson A Coal Miner’s Goodbye deals with a father choosing between the continuation of family history in the Virginia coal mines, or a healthier and different lifestyle for his family. The essay, written by Nick Mullins is a… Continue Reading →

On Masculinity and Sustainability

The YES! article titled So Many Masks To “Be a Man” is an attempt at articulating the pressures and products of masculinity in American culture with specific attention to the relationship of father and son. This well-written article portrays the… Continue Reading →

How Far Can We Get Without Flying?

This article proposes to stop flying to burn less fossil fuels. The CO2 that Airplanes emit is substantially greater than any other way of travelling. Dr. Peter Kalmus, author of this article, prevented 2/3 of the carbon dioxide he was… Continue Reading →

Access to Public Transit and Affordability

I grew up riding public buses. In my early adulthood, traveling and living in different cities, I relied on public transportation to get around, and started to notice a pattern. The more affordable the places I was staying, the further… Continue Reading →

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