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May | 2013 | After Coal

What Does Transition Look Like? Oral History Project Follows Former Miners

Our contributing blogger this week is Dr. Lou Martin, Assistant Professor of History at Chatham University. If you are interested in contributing to the After Coal blog, please e-mail aftercoalfilm@gmail.com. Enjoy! As a historian, I am always more comfortable studying the 1950s than the present, let alone the future.  But as I have become involved in efforts to save Blair Mountain—one of West Virginia’s most important historic sites—I have come face-to-face with miners and their families who will suffer as we transition away from burning coal.  Last summer at a protest against mountaintop removal, one coal miner asked, “If you close down the mines, what do I do?” Having studied the 1950s and 1960s in West Virginia, I know that coal miners at that time were just as likely to lose their job to mechanization or mine closure as they were to retire with a pension.  While miners and their families have […]

What is Community Regeneration?

The After Coal team visited with Victoria Winckler, Director of the Bevan Foundation at the Ebbw Vale Steel Works in Wales. Two miles of buildings that once employed 10,000 people are now the site of a massive regeneration effort. A new hospital, college, and eco-friendly housing units are all part of the plan for the once bustling valley. Winckler explained that the Bevan Foundation seeks solutions to poverty and social exclusion through research, idea exchanges, and public policy recommendations.  Her perspective on regeneration outlines the complex decision making that faces community leaders and policy makers in deindustrialized places. Winckler: “Regeneration is one of those words that means a lot of different things depending on who you talk to.  On one extreme, regeneration can be described as ethical property development. So, you would take a rundown area (very often an urban area) and provide a mixture of incentives and public sector support. […]