Pan Appalachian Defender

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mountain Links: A Resource Center

By Colleen Cronin and Hannah Morgan

On the cool fall evening of September 20th, 25 people gathered in downtown Appalachia, VA to celebrate the grand opening of a resource center called Mountain Links. Activists have been working hard all summer to set up the resource center in this small town, which is nestled amongst the 202 active mining sites speckled throughout Wise County.
The center serves residents of Wise County and southwestern Virginia with a free library, internet access, and tutoring, community events, and as a gathering place for people to discuss mining issues and economic alternatives to coal. It occupies three rooms on Main Street in Appalachia, and is filled with used furniture and supplies.
Mountain Links, will offer free internet access, a library, free tutoring, and leisure activities. The space will provide information and a meeting space for community organizers to address mine related issues and to explore economic alternatives to the coal industry. It may also be used for public meetings, classes, workshops, and other events.
To start off, we are planning to have movie nights, discussion groups, tutoring sessions, public forums, and meetings with community activists and others working to deal with the local devastation of the land. More events and activities will develop as interest and demand grows.
The center welcomes a wide range of guests, including locals already outspoken against MTR, curious passersby’s surprised and intrigued who are by what we’re doing, and numerous teenagers who come in for free tutoring after school, or just to hang out. As the name implies, we’re here to link people together- people from neighboring hollers, from across the Appalachians, and from the different sides of electricity consumption. Mountain Links is here to provide resources for all to educate themselves on the connections between the disappearing mountains, coal dust that covers their porches, the dark storefronts, the disintegrating communities and the energy required for everyday excesses.
To keep the center running, we need your support! There are a variety of ways you can help, including fund raising, help with grant-writing, and donations of resources, supplies, and funds. One of our biggest needs is people! If you live nearby, we could use your help staffing the center or leading a class or event. For folks far away, please visit when you can and spread the word from wherever you are! You can also help find and write grants, or host a fund raiser in your hometown.
The space itself needs: furniture (chairs, bookshelves, small tables, a TV, DVD player, computers), resources (books, magazines, pamplets, videos) related to coal & mining, Appalachian culture, history, & ecology, small-scale agriculture & other economic possibilities, community and organizing, politics, reference books, etc.
Mountain Links can be reached by email at, by telephone at (434) 960-2080 or (781)308-2458, or by mail at P.O. Box 453, Appalachia, VA 24216. Thanks for your support!


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