WV Rivers News: February 2024
Updates from WV Rivers Coalition
February 2024 E-News
A snowy yet sunny winter afternoon at the West Virginia State Capitol. Photo by WV Rivers Staff.
On Tuesday, January 30, at 1 PM, the House Committee on Energy and Manufacturing passed HB 5018 out of committee, and it is heading to the House floor despite the advocacy of more than 400 individuals against this industry-backed bill.
The Legislature must conduct three readings before passing a bill out of the House. We anticipate the final reading to take place this Friday.
Our allies at the WV E-Council have requested and secured a public hearing on HB 5018, which must occur before the third reading.
We need all hands on deck! Meet us in the House Chambers at the WV State Capitol (1900 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston) this Friday, February 2, from 9 to 10 am. Speaker registration starts at 8:30 am.
If you cannot make it in person, send an email through the button below or call your delegate and Speaker Hanshaw and ask them to Vote NO on HB 5018 and protect community monitoring.
Clean Water for All Event Recap
Mike Pushkin leads us in a song at Clean Water for All on January 9, commemorating the 2014 Elk River Chemical Leak. Our speakers and fellow musicians join him on stage to sing along.
Earlier this month, our team, with a dozen partnering organizations and 350 attendees, gathered at the Culture Center in Charleston, WV, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 2014 Elk River Chemical Leak.
Clean Water for All: Reflecting on the 2014 Water Crisis and Shaping a Water-Secure Future was an evening for reflection and dreaming. Highlighting the event were personal narratives from community members directly impacted by the crisis interwoven with photos, videos, and live performances by Mike Pushkin, Lucia Valentine, and Jade Tremba. Their stories served as poignant reminders of the ongoing struggle for clean water access. Read coverage of the event from the Charleston Gazette-Mail here.
Throughout the evening, attendees were invited to help paint a community mural with the support of West Virginia artist Nichole Westfall, who grew up on the Elk River. The mural is now on tour and will travel to 12 counties throughout the next year. You can learn more about this project and get involved below.
West Virginia-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sierra Ferrell, who has been regarded as one of the brightest young luminaries in roots music today, lent her voice to the cause. Ferrell headlined this event along with The Local Honeys, a Kentucky duo whose songs speak to a new generation, a new Appalachian, the people who understand the beauty, the struggle, and the complexity of contemporary Appalachian life. Zach Wildee and Mill Creek Cronies also performed.
This was a free, ticketed event that was made possible thanks to the support of Appalachian Voices, Anthony Majestro, Bad Shepherd Beer, Cacapon Institute, Choose Clean Water Coalition, Conservation WV, Davis Creek Watershed, Don & Julie Harding, Downstream Strategies, Greenbrier Watershed Association, Lost Appalachia Trading Co., New Providence Forge Security, POWHR Coalition, Sierra Club West Virginia, Strange Communications, The Climate Reality Project, The Downstream Project, Thompson & Barney, West Virginia Citizen Action Group, West Virginia Environmental Council, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, West Virginia Land Trust, and the help of WV Rivers Coalition members like you who showed up in big ways this past year.
We’re incredibly grateful for the community surrounding us. Take a look at some photos we shared on our Facebook page — and give us a follow if you aren’t already.
A Symbol of Resilience and Community is on the Move
A powerful symbol of resilience and unity is on the move across West Virginia. Born from the commemoration of the 2014 Elk River Chemical Leak, the Clean Water Mural Tour is a testament to community strength and the ongoing fight for clean water access.
Nichole Westfall, a native of the region who grew up along the Elk River, led us on this community art project. With her guidance, attendees became active participants in bringing the mural to life, adding their strokes and colors to depict the rich tapestry of West Virginia stream life. From the great blue heron to the white-tailed deer, from playful children catching crawdads to the myriad of aquatic creatures, each element of the mural symbolizes our interconnectedness.
At the heart of the mural, amidst the depiction of diverse flora and fauna, lies a shared dream rendered in bold white lettering: “In each drop a dream: All our mountain streams run clean.” This statement encapsulates our collective aspirations as West Virginia water protectors — a shared vision where clean water flows freely, sustaining both the ecosystem and the communities that depend on it.
Over the next year, the mural will go on tour across 12 counties, becoming a catalyst for change and dialogue. Communities will have the opportunity to engage with the mural, to reflect on the significance of clean water, and to explore ways in which they can contribute to its preservation.
We are looking for volunteers in Charleston, Parkersburg, Wheeling, Morgantown, Tucker County, Jefferson County, Pocahontas County, Lewisburg, McDowell County, Fayetteville, Huntington, and Braxton County to:
- Help move the 6’x5′ mural from one place to the next. Do you have a large SUV and want to help transport our Clean Water for All Mural? We’d appreciate your help!
- Plan receptions and small community events to help promote the mural. Are you interested in getting people together to talk about clean water in your community? We’d love to talk.
You can email Maggie Stange at email@example.com if you would like to volunteer and get involved in this project.
Stay connected with us on Instagram as we document the Clean Water Mural Tour’s progress. Join the conversation, share your thoughts, and help spread awareness about the importance of clean water for all.
Exciting News at WV Rivers: Autumn Crowe has been Promoted to Deputy Director!
Autumn Crowe, Deputy Director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition
Volunteer Appreciation Day Postponed
Our February 3rd Volunteer Appreciation event in Pence Springs has been postponed! We’ll update you with a new date soon, and we hope you will join us then to show our appreciation for our water quality monitoring volunteers, admirers of those volunteers, and people interested in volunteering to keep our waters safe!
E-Day Advocacy Training: Bills and Talking Points
During this informative Zoom webinar on February 6th at 7:00 pm, WVEC Lobbyists Lucia Valentine and Isabel Stellato will offer up-to-date information about 2024 legislation WVEC supports and provide talking points for meeting with key legislators during Environmental Day (E-Day). Your input matters. Learn more and register today!
3rd Annual Black Policy Day at the State Capitol
Black Policy Day was established by Black By God, Partnerships for the Arts & Education, and WV Black Voter Impact Initiative with the vision of creating space for historically oppressed and ignored groups to amplify their stories and participate in the policymaking process. We’ll be there on February 7th from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.
Environmental Day at the WV Capitol with E-Council
Environmental Day (E-Day) at the WV State Capitol is on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, from 9 am – 2 pm! E-Day offers the opportunity to witness the legislature in action, explore the Capitol, connect with environmental organizations, and advocate for your environmental legislative priorities. We’ll be there with our mural and more!
Free King Coal Screening and Discussion
Popcorn and drinks provided! On February 16th, 6:30-8:30 pm, we’re hosting a special screening of the film King Coal by Elaine McMillion Sheldon in collaboration with West Edge Factory and Reuse Corridor. Stick around for a discussion and a collaborative reuse art project envisioning West Virginia’s future afterward! Free entry with RSVP.
There’s a Crawdad Sitting on the Petal
Inspired by a cherished moment at the Greenbrier River Vigil, immortalized in a semi-viral Instagram Reel, this design is a collaboration with our friends at Lost Appalachia Trading Co.
100% of pre-order profits will flow directly to WV Rivers, fueling our efforts in safeguarding our precious water sources. Every purchase is a ripple of support for clean water initiatives across West Virginia!
Pre-orders close on February 11th. Choose between Denim Blue or Mustard. Shipping or pickup in Fayetteville, WV, is available in late February or early March.
Designed and printed in Appalachia.