Certain Unalienable Rights. Maybe.

The noon “action” in Floyd yesterday brought the hardies out into the cold wind to advocate for a voice in what happens to the places we call home. I was one of several representatives from the counties at the gathering to offer a  statement at the press conference upstairs in the Floyd Country Store.  Find some media links at the end of this post. — Fred

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Floyd County citizens were alarmed when the Mountain Valley Pipeline seemed likely to lay a long scar across the places we hold dear, threatening our water, the value and full enjoyment and use of our property and our way of life.

Along with many of our sister counties in Southwest Virginia, we have a long and close relationship with these mountains. They are the foundation of the notion of who we are together. Where we live is who we are, you might say.

So we were–and are–resistant to the notion that the fate of our fields, forests and wetlands might be determined in corporate board rooms and political conference rooms and not, after all, in our own living rooms.

In rejecting the Mountain Valley and other pipelines in our back yard and in all back yards, we take a step towards an era when carbon fuels no longer threaten our planet with runaway overheating and the consequences of extreme thermal and chemical changes to which 7 billion people and their crops cannot adapt.

And so I have come here today to express a grievance on behalf of many Floyd County citizens that the power of politically-supported corporations is too often overwhelming the will of communities like Floyd in nearby counties that are represented here today, and increasingly from across the country.

We reject the notion that the fate of any community’s future rests with those who place too low a value on the genuine perpetual best interests of that community’s natural, physical and cultural well-being.

We are here today to be heard. Should we remain passive and silent, our people and our land will get the undesirable future that others choose for us. If we acquiesce to the “public good” as judged by corporate and cold political interests alone then we must be content to confront a dangerous and disordered future. We are not content to do so.

Standing for the rights of our ecosystems’ future health is an appropriate action towards the reshaping of our economy. The goal is our common well-being, moving with hope and determination away from a profit-and-growth model that is destroying us from the top down.

We insist that communities hold the rights to offer their children a future in place, able to judge what is the best use for their land and for the commons they share with all.

Pipeline protests still rage | Blue Ridge Muse

Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents push to have a local say at Floyd protest – Roanoke Times: Floyd County News

Pipeline opponents rally for more local control | Local News – WDBJ7.com Central and Southwest VA

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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