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Appalachian Festival Symposium


Friday, September 16
Upper Quad, Public Welcome

Featuring speakers from the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation and CitizenShale with a musical performance by Jay Smar

The extraction of natural resources for energy production has a long and storied history in the Appalachian region. From the harvesting of its hardwoods, to coal mining, to the contemporary debate over natural gas drilling, the energy industries have left an indelible mark on the Appalachian environment and culture. This year’s symposium focuses on contemporary conflicts created by surface mining and natural gas drilling. Participants demonstrate how the region’s residents are engaging community members to ensure that their communities emphasize long term cultural and environmental sustainability over short term profit.

Keeper of the Mountains Foundation2 PM Keeper of the Mountains Foundation
The Keeper of the Mountains Foundation aims to educate and inspire people to work for healthier, more sustainable mountain communities and an end to mountaintop removal. Its members believe a better future in the coalfields requires everyday people to come together and recognize their power to make long-term, lasting change. These activists envision an organization, led by West Virginians, with real power in West Virginia. They support communities that want to move beyond a coal-based economy and put in its place an economy that values people, land, and mountain heritage.





Participants include:

  • Paula SwearenginPaula Swearengin of Glen White, WV Paula was born in Mullens, WV but spent most of her youth in Yadkin County, North Carolina. She is a single mother currently residing in Glen White, WV. The reason she wishes to preserve our mountains and environment is simple. The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest and most beautiful in the world. She brought her children back here in hopes of sharing their beauty and her heritage only to find out they were being destroyed. As a mother, she feels it's her obligation to her children to have a voice against the negative impacts of mountain top removal on two of our most vital needs for survival; clean air and clean water.

  • Marilyn MullensMarilyn Mullens of Cool Ridge, WV Marilyn currently live in Cool Ridge, WV. She is 45 years old and was born and raised in WV, mostly Boone County. She joined the Air Force right out of high school and spent ten years away from WV in the service. She came back to WV in 1993. She has a BSN and she is a Major in the Army with more than 21 years of service. She has two children, three dogs, two cats, 13 chickens, and 12 sheep and one donkey......oh and a husband.

  • Jay Smar3:30 PM Jay Smar

    Complete with two guitars, baritone vocals, clawhammer banjo and fiddling, singing and flat footin’, Jay Smar serves his audience an “acoustic buffet” of traditional American and original folk, old-time mountain music, bluegrass and gospel. His recent CD release, Heritage and Coal-Mining Songs of Eastern Pennsylvania, features materials collected by George Korson of Pottsville, Pa., who recorded coal miners’ songs, stories and poems in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania during the early 1900s and introduces many new songwriters who have a deep interest in preserving local heritage through song. His work has been recognized by a 2009 Pennsylvania House of Representatives Recognition Award. For more information, go to

  • CitizenShale4:00 PM CitizenShale

    CitizenShale is a group of business and property-owners in Western Maryland. CitizenShale is dedicated to mitigating the wide-ranging impacts of shale gas drilling on local communities by educating citizens in the Marcellus region and providing balanced, fact-based information about gas development. CitizenShale representatives will listen to concerns and provide resources for folks interested in getting involved and learning more about the economic, political, environmental, health, and safety issues relating to gas development.

    This summer, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced an executive order requiring more study of the issues, saying that the state must fully understand the environmental consequences of the drilling underway in nearby states. Members of CitizenShale argue that residents cannot afford to be complacent about this issue, given that roughly 110,000 acres in Garrett County, plus several thousand in Allegany County, have now been leased to more than a dozen companies—none of them based in Maryland.

    The organization's executive committee is currently taking shape, and anyone wanting an active role is encouraged to get involved. CitizenShale may be contacted at, or by writing the organization at P.O. Box 355, Oakland, MD 21550.

The Symposium is supported in part by the Sierra Student Coalition