Razing Appalachia

Sasha Waters. | 72 minutes. Room 135 Productions.

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In the tradition of recent David-and-Goliath documentaries such as Blue Vinyl and Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town, this quietly heartbreaking film depicts the battle between citizens of Blair, West Virginia, and Arch Coal Inc. over the issue of mountaintop removal mining. Taking its title from a 1999 Mother Jones investigation, Razing Appalachia provides shocking images — not only of “decapitated” mountains but of miles of streambeds entombed by the rocky by-products of such industrial beheading.

Working against the Blair-based activists is the fact that the head of West Virginia’ s department of environmental protection was a coal executive for 17 years. In addition, the end of mining expansion would likely mean the loss of some 400 jobs for union miners in this poverty-stricken region. Alas, these complexities aren’ t done justice by the unsophisticated filmmaking. But director Waters cuts to the heart of the matter when she captures a lifelong resident’ s rebuke of a government official: “You’ re the Environmental Protection Agency,” he says. “You’re not protecting me.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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