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Divestment from Fossil Fuels Can Mean Reinvestment in Appalachian Economic Resiliency

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The Fossil Fuel Student Divestment Network has spread to over 500 campuses internationally.  These students and alumni are working to get their universities and colleges to divest from fossil fuels. A recent victory at Harvard University shows the power of the movement – just six months ago, Harvard officials had told students and alumni there was no way the school would divest their $33bn endowment from fossil fuels. However, Harvard is the 9th college so far to show movement in the direction of divestment by setting aside a fund to reinvest.  Pitzer University recently won the most comprehensive divestment victory yet.

Photo by Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network

Recently, organizers hosted a convergence, gathering 300 students from dozens of universities in San Francisco along with leaders from across the environmental justice and climate change movements to learn new skills and make plans.

Paul Corbit Brown from the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation and Christine Gyovai spoke to the impacts of coal on communities in Appalachia, as well as the powerful work for economic resiliency that they are a part of in Central Appalachia.

“I discussed how to support projects where community members  are developing local economies, especially in Southwest Virginia,” said Christine Gyovai. “We are looking at how to sustain this project over the long haul – how do we translate our ideas and visions into concrete, sustainable action. It was great to see ways that other communities are doing this work.  It’s important to have a place to come together and hear people’s stories.”

“I appreciated all the different people’s perspectives gathered at the convergence – different perspectives with a unified theme. It was inspirational, but also hands on with concrete ideas and tools to bring back home.”

As students look to divest from fossil fuels, it’s  important to explore what reinvestment in the communities most impacted by fossil fuels can look like. To hear interviews with some of the students who organized the convergence, check out this article.  Go here to sign a petition calling for divestment of fossil fuels and to find out about local campaigns in your area.

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Appalachian Voices  •  Coal River Mountain Watch  •   Heartwood  •  Keeper of the MountainsKentuckians for the Commonwealth 

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition  •   Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowermentSierra Club Environmental Justice

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards  •   SouthWings  •  Stay Project  •   West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

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