December 12, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Deep Down (DVD)

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Deep Down: A Story from the Heart of Coal Country.  DVD. 57 min. New Day Films. 2010, 2013 release.  ISBN 978-1-57448-281-2.  $99. 
Gr 9 Up–The controversial topic of mountaintop removal mining is viewed through the lives Beverly May and Terry Ratliff, residents of Floyd County, Kentucky. May, a fourth generation resident of the area wants to protect the land which is her home and her heritage. Her neighbor, Ratliff, is more pragmatic and considers leasing his land to a mining company. He believes that the land is resilient and can recover from whatever actions are taken to remove the coal. With appropriate background music and stunning scenes of the Kentucky landscape contrasted with the stark topography of mountaintop removal sites, this story plays out over the course of two years as citizens useg public hearings and their knowledge of existing laws to stop the mine planned for their hollow. Mining is the economy of the community and the residents know its impact upon their wellbeing, health, and safety. The grassroots movement led by May was successful and stopped the mine. Ratliff, who had delayed his decision to lease his land to the coal company, ended up with no money. There are five bonus segments that explore power production. This documentary can be utilized across the curriculum to study grassroots democracy, environmental issues, the culture of mountain areas, business, and philosophical ethics of “a society dependent upon blowing up a mountain…” to maintain a lifestyle dependent upon electricity.–Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community College, Mt. Carmel

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