The Mountain Valley Pipeline, a zombie fracked gas project that found new life in the dark corners of the debt ceiling relief bill continues to struggle through the rough terrain and people of Appalachia. Crystal Mello, mom and pipeline fighter joins the show to discuss the intense and exhausting process of fighting these projects all amidst a media storm of misinformation and the demonization of frontline activists. In the second half of the show, mom and storyteller carla bergman joins the show to bring from the shadows the nary-discussed issue of adult supremacy as a system of oppression. she discusses trust, love, responsibility and autonomy through this lens, highlighting the importance of of starting now, with solidarity, in order to build the future of justice and freedom that we all, including kids, want and deserve.
Video of Interview with Crystal Mello
Video of Interview with carla bergman
Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with carla bergman
Eleanor: Thanks everyone for joining us at the Project Censored Radio Show.
We’re very glad right now to be joined by carla joy bergman, who’s a mom and storyteller, and she dabbles with writing and media making, often opening realms of autonomy, reciprocity, art, creativity, and challenging empire. carla aims to keep the embers burning with and for the youth and the coming generations.
You can find all of her work over at joyfulcarla. com. carla, thanks so much for joining us.
carla: Hi, thanks for having me. Such a delight to share this space with you again, Eleanor.
Eleanor: For folks listening, carla has, has authored many things, from pamphlets to books. , but today we’re kind of going to be focusing on, Trust Kids and I want to start, I want to start off first of all because I love the title because it made me immediately think of the tango scene from Moulin Rouge, , where the Argentinian says without trust there is no love, uh, and while parents will unequivocally oftentimes say that they love their children, many would also openly admit that they don’t trust them.
In which case, dot, dot, dot. And I, I, I want to, I want to start with the culture that we have of raising kids. A lot of the focus is on the kids, like what they need to do and how they need to act this way and say this. But the trust kids aspect is really about us as adults and parents and how we need to reframe well, our framing. And as one parent wrote, , in a recent post, I saw kids are the mirrors to the unhealed parts of ourselves. Could you talk a little bit about that reframing of the focus on kids need to do this as opposed to like, Hey, maybe adults need to.
carla: Yeah, sure. Thank you. And a big fan of Moulin Rouge. Oh my God. I just want to say that that’s, I just love that you brought that together. Thank you. Um, cause I agree, I think, , when I think about, you know, I write a lot about joy and people often, you know, think that that is the thread that runs through my work, but really it’s trust.
If you look back at everything, it’s trust. , I think it is the foundation of any kind of good, , community or collective or household or, any environment where people are together. And relationship trust is like, a baseline trust is like the necessary foundation for anything to, well, for love to take root really, so I love that connection.
So, you know, I’ve never been interested in writing a parenting handbook, or speaking to parents. Because it’s just it’s too raw, it’s too emotional. People get too defensive immediately. I also don’t think it’s helpful. So I’m more interested in zooming out and looking at the systemic issue that’s actually that’s causing the problem and that is adult supremacy as a system of oppression.
And it felt important to me. I, you know, I’ve been in this conversation and in this work for over 20 years and really my whole life because it begins with me and dealing with my own, um, oppression that happened to me as a kid. And there’s been, you know, we can look at all the pockets of beautiful change that’s happened over the years because of child advocates and people pushing against this from John Holt to, bell h ooks, but at the same time, when you start looking at the stats, it’s really actually not that much better.
And, you know, for example, all the states, including Canada, you can still spank your kid at home. It’s still legal. And, and in the U. S. it’s like, I think, 19 states, where corporal punishment in the schools is still okay. And,, kids grow up to become adults and they replicate it because they weren’t trusted as a kid and you can just see the circle, you can just see the dynamic.
And, I wanted to get the conversation out of two places: out of it being locked and siloed in child and youth liberation through schooling. And then, parenting. So I wanted to bust open and really zoom out and look at like, no, all adults are invited into this conversation with love.
And, and, and let’s look at how adult supremacy is in every single room in every place all the time. So, and how it causes so much harm. And that’s why I, you know, did kind of a polemic title: Trust Kids, a kind of a demand.
Eleanor: Yeah, well, I love it. It definitely reads as a call to action, and I love that.
And I, I want to shift also to the, the, the kids that are present in the book, not least of all, Liam Joy Bergman, your kid, who wrote, about needing guidance. And I, when I read that, I was like, oh gosh, this is a point that I have to address because that can feel really unclear and prickly to a lot of adults and parents.
A bit like when we talk about how humans need to be with nature. You know, we got to let nature be who it is, but also engage with it, not just like extract ourselves and be like, oh, just, we have to let go of nature. Like, no, we need to, we are nature. Could you talk about being an adult and parenting in this way that some might find contradictory, like the honoring autonomy while at the same time giving guidance?
carla: This, you know, this happens in all relationships and all spaces. Me and a coauthor for joyful militancy, we named it this tendency, rigid radicalism, and it definitely comes into radical parenting, ,
And the thing is, is that this is, this comes up to a larger issue for me around care. And around tending to relationships. I mean, I really, when you look up the meaning of the word freedom at the root of it, it just basically means dear beloved. So when you’re working in a relationship with someone about their freedom and about autonomy, like where’s love and, meeting people where they’re at and care and needs.
And, just to be upfront, I have chronic illnesses and other, issues that require a care flowing in other ways in our house. So this isn’t just a top down situation about support and guidance, and like who doesn’t need guidance is like the other thing. There’s a fantastic quote from Ursula K. Le Guin, of course, about how, you know, we need guides because otherwise people are going they’re going to map out your life for you. And guides will sometimes help intervene and actually the role of to me of a good of good guidance is listening, at the root of it. So the the sort of, the other side of the coin, or maybe it’s even part of the whole composition of trust is like, first of all, believing people when whatever their perception is, and then listening.
So I think that is, it’s a good place to really practice what having a loving autonomous, flowing, relationship is like with anybody, but particularly with kids where power is palpable, like you actually do have power. And there’s, I fail on the daily, , with it because I get overwhelmed, I have too much work, I’m trying to write and the needs are coming at me too much. And I just, you know, I, the fuse, the short fuse thing happens, and, I leverage power, and then it’s, you know, it’s all in the recovery. It’s all in the acknowledging and the relationship and making sure you’re tending to that trust, that foundation.
Eleanor: Yeah, absolutely. And I, I, I love that so much of what I hear from folks that I feel like are farther in this journey of this kind of radical parenting say, Oh no, I still mess up and I still do this wrong. And I’m like, okay, phew. Which, I mean, you should, like, one should know inherently, because it’s just like being anti racist or, or anti oppression.
There is no, like, goalpost where you reach it and you’re like, got it! So of course we’re always growing and learning, but it, it is, it is helpful to hear and. And I, and I think that, , with that, I kind of want to get into something that you shared with me when I, when I was still pregnant, which I, I asked you for some, for some elevator pitch advice and you were like, just trust your instincts and trust your kid. , and… I think something that I’ve learned since having a kid is that kids can be very scary in the sense that they force you to question the system, but also in my case, like my anti capitalist, anti oppression ideals.
Like that’s even scary for me who, if you would have asked me like two years ago, I’d have been like, of course I’m all of those things. And this is a really powerful way for me that, that I’ve looked at adult supremacy. And also, in the book, there’s a lot of discussion about how this is a decolonizing effect as well.
And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about how questioning adult supremacy, how really like living, being forced to question those ideals that you’ve been programmed with is really a matter of decolonizing ourselves as well.
carla: Wow. Okay. Thank you for that.
One of my close, main mentors who passed away while, while I was writing the book, Gustavo Esteva, him and Madhu, they did research, like primarily in Mexico and in India about this kind of idea about kids, like where are the kids. I had a chapter called where are the kids. And it was, and what they found was that in villages and small communities where colonial ideals of family and how kids should be, this whole construction of the child, which actually happened with European colonialism, overall, in most communities, by the time the child was five, they were, like, considered a major part of the community, like, so they were participating in the ways that they could.
And again, this is another way where you have to take off the lenses of, like, those kind of biases and those lenses of ageism, because, you know, and we have, we live in such an ableist society too, because there’s so many adults who, you know, can’t participate at some levels due to different, , disabilities or, uh, predilections or, so it’s the same with kids.
And so kids would participate fully and the piece that comes with trust that’s really important is responsibility. So like how to have responsibility for each other and for the place and kids are invited into that by about age five and this is what they found.
And that’s a very de colonial model. It’s a very like de nuclear family model. And, you know, all that stuff was constructed under early early colonialism, including schooling. You can just trace it and so anything that you do that undoes those social borders that are really massive is going to be a decolonial act because at the center of it is colonialist white supremacist ideals and includes patriarchy as well. And ableism, I mean all of them. That’s why I like to just say empire.
Eleanor: Indeed. It’s a catch all. And I, I want to get into the, the, the questions about the nuclear family as well. But another thing in the, in the, in the book that I liked was that it also talked about , this extends to the way that we organize.
We parents and adults who do organize, , are we organizing in a space and in a way that invites kids in? Or that, I think one of the quotes in the book was like, is it a 12 hour meeting with no breaks and people just keep talking? Like, most adults can’t pay attention to that. Like, why would we expect kids?
And then that means that we’re excluding the kids from that space. But then we never get their insights and their input, which perpetuates this kind of supremacist model.
carla: And yeah, indeed, that was Leanne Simpson. That was such a fantastic quote. Yeah.
Like, I’m always clearly very interested in intergenerational and multigenerational ways of coming together because to me, it’s like, we have to, like, it’s actually going to save us. If we have to drop these social borders, and I’m not just talking about age, all of them. I’m not talking about boundaries. I’m talking about borders.
The ways that we are cut off from each other and excluded from each other. It’s not, it’s not the same as othering. Othering is something that is going to happen no matter what utopia we end up or joy topia or thrive topia. You’re, you know, othering is always, differences is always going to be there, but borderings will hopefully be gone.
Eleanor: I like that you made that distinction between boundaries and borders, because, again, , boundaries are something that it’s important to, to have with kids, with adults, with, with everybody, uh, yet borders are what cut us off, so I appreciate you making that distinction. And I want to turn now to one of the primary things that, that gets discussed when we talk about trusting kids and when we talk to stepping into this radical space, against adult supremacy is the concept or the issue of school.
And with good reason, you know, like kids spend a lot of time in school. And even when they’re not in school, like I remember in high school, I had like three hours of homework every night. So I was in school long after I left the physical space. And it’s a bit like economist Richard Wolff puts it: we expect democracy in a government, but not in our workplace where we spend most of our lives. Like, that’s silly. And here we would claim to be anti oppression in what yet we send our kids to institutions that oppress and forcefully mold them into good little proles. Can you talk a little bit about, I mean, it’s ridiculous to ask you a short question about this, but could you talk a little bit about unschooling and de schooling and how that is a vital aspect of trusting kids?
carla: Sure. Yeah. I mean, it’s a massive topic and, and I did, you know, out of the sort of, I think there’s four sections in the book, there’s only one that really dives into it, although it threads through the whole book, because it, you know, I didn’t want to, like I said, this is often gets, it gets siloed here for really good reasons.
And this comes back to that idea of intersectionality of like different ways people are oppressed. So as, , long as we have capitalism and colonialism and all these other isms that destroy our lives like school is going to be an issue. So I’ve always been interested in pushing against the binary of school and not school and actually trying to nuance it and think about it in a deep and profound ways.
At least that’s been my aim. And I, we used to call it odd schooling, and this is one of the things I help a lot of young people do: how to leverage the systems around and and create your own education, especially when you get after, you know, sort of age 13/14, like, just the ways you can sort of hack the system to make it work for you.
Because there’s all kinds of things that people think they think there’s only one route, but there you don’t have to it’s not a linear thing that okay. I guess because of our financial situation, our lifestyle or work, I mean, we’re just going to have to like send our kid to school, forever for 12 years, but that’s just not true.
Like it, we always had a, a relationship centered home, not a child home. So the conversation of schooling, all that stuff was always a conversation we had together because it , everybody was included in what that would look like with a basis of that.
You get to own your education. You get to own your learning. You get to follow your curiosity. And I’m here as a facilitator to help weave together and work and find those mentors and find those institutions or alternative spaces for you to plug into it. That’s my role as an adult who has those access and can do that work.
So, you know, while overall we unschooled, we also were lucky to be part of a democratic free school that was publicly funded, which is really rare. So my kids got to do what, that’s why we called it odd schooling, because they had access to teachers, they had access to a community and multi generational spaces of learning, but they also both dropped out really young and didn’t… I think one of the things you see with kids who have a lot of autonomy and a lot of freedom in their day to day life is by the time they’re 12,13,14 they’re pretty ready for engaging with like adults, quote unquote, kind of in spaces, environments, , learning spaces, whether it’s college level or whatever.
The other piece I think that’s really vital for people to understand is there’s this, this reflex. Anybody, anytime people create alternatives to the kind of model of prefiguration, like it’s, we’re the bad guys, right? Like people always go after them.
So this happens with alternative schools: well, they cost money, so they’re bad, . But when you actually step back, step away from that a little bit and look at the whole spectrum of schooling that’s happening in, let’s just use the U. S. because that’s where you are. There’s way more charter schools that are in the privileged realm that are really expensive for elite families, elite kids to, quote unquote become, ,like the myth of meritocracy, like if they just work hard, everything will be great.
Or, and then the other piece is like the privilege, you know, one of the things people used to say it’s really privileged that you unschool your kids and here we are working class family living in a moldy apartment like no, no, this was like, because it’s actually I care about it like too much, right.
So, and so we’re the bad guys, apparently: people who want to create community, intergenerational communities of learning where kids can follow their predilections and their proclivities and their desires and their curiosity, where they can study physics at age eight because they have a aptitude for that or , or start reading at age 12 and not have any stigma on that because they’re busy like organizing community potlucks.
And, at the very core, schooling is a, is a system that was created that goes along with capitalism and colonialism so deeply. It was, it was constructed that way. And it’s so trusted and believed. And even Marx, the big famous quote with, you know, debate between Marx and Bakunin, Marx thought school was good.
And Bakunin was like, but that’s where they’re getting indoctrinated. It’s like, this is where it’s happening, and Marx like, no, it’s fine. It’s fine. Better than working, you know, and it’s like, wow, no, you’re wrong. Um, but I could, yeah, I, I realize the time here, but this goes way back.
Schooling resistance began at the moment the rise of schools happened. So even Tolstoy had alternative schools in Russia because he believed in freedom of learning. Emma Goldman, like it just, you know, it goes way back, Kropotkin. , so there’s so much material out there around unschooling, de schooling and alternatives to schooling for kids.
Eleanor: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s my fault for asking such a ridiculously broad question.
So I, at the core of, of a lot of what we’ve been discussing is the concept of power, and you talked about leveraging power, in that kind of adult supremacist space, and have, you know, the power that we have over children inherently in the system, , and to me, one of the harshest manifestations that I, that I see or have been a part of is, is shaming, you know, shaming kids to be in line with the values of a fundamentally crooked and cruel system.
And I was wondering if you could, mention, like, how, how is that shame at odds with the concepts of, of, of trust and love?
carla: You know, really, it’s about pushing against any, any, the dominator model, right?
The domination model. And that was bell hooks’ big thing. And this is, she was one of the feminist Black writers who was right, who centered children as a site of, where the work needed to begin. Because we just be, we’re, we’re, we’re raising future patriarchs and future oppressors. .
And I think like shame is, is something we all have. So there’s trust but then there’s believing people’s perspective, right and kids face, they’re constantly belittled. Constantly. It comes back to that idea of like guidance like there’s a place for going yes. And yes, I you know, yes, I believe your experience and and let’s have a like a conversation about the system outside of you happening too, you know? This is I think where people trip up , and how one of the things, why I went the route I went with this work, away from kind of the alternative schooling to alternative to schooling was the entrenchment of individualism that can happen in spaces where kids are being centered and why I had that nuance of a relationship centered home.
Cause if we’re really trying to undo these social borders, then we have to really show up. Like we really, this isn’t about me going yeah, I’m just going to center all your needs and I’m going to put my whole stuff over here.
But I think like, just back to your very first question, it’s back to that idea of an invitation into, to adults, to be a trusting, to work at being a trusting adult.
And that a couple of people wrote about that in the book as well . You really only can work with ourselves and where we’re at, and we’re all pretty hurt around the way we were shamed and the shame we carry. And, and it turns into being called other names like imposter syndrome or when you give yourself like negative talk, self-talk. So we’re carrying that into our relationships with kids and, and really it’s about ourselves, the ways, the ways we’ve abandoned ourselves and then we, we just replicate it and, it’s devastating and we can see the rise of kids suicide is massive. It’s never been higher. And you know, kids are really not doing well, really not doing well. And that take, that’s because we have an adult supremacist system, and we need to look at it and confront it and work together and support each other in undoing those borders.
Eleanor: Yeah, absolutely. And and kind of wrapping up here, I, I want to, I want to, again, like a very broad thing that is impossible to shrink down to this kind of conversation, but here we go. One of the things that I loved is that it showed up a couple of different ways in a couple of different phrases. Solidarity begins at home or anarchy begins at home.
And of course, anarchy is a word that particularly in the U. S., like, you know . And I’ve tried to, I’ve tried to deal with that but, uh, I love that those, both of those phrases showed up in the same book, because to me they are, they are synonyms in many ways. And there was a David Graeber quote that was shared in the book that I love, quote, we are all communists with our closest friends and feudal lords when dealing with small children, end quote.
And that’s, and that’s so true. And, when I read, ,Solidarity Begins at Home, it creates that kind of looping back to what you just discussed at the beginning, like, we have to look at ourselves and we have to think about how are we showing up as, you know, either anarchists or how are we showing up in solidarity?
So I’m wondering if you could just say, in little ways, what are some ways that you first started or that one could start unpacking what that really means, like, solidarity beginning at home with yourself?
carla: Wow, that’s a great, that’s a great question. Yeah, that was the original title of the book, and it was because that was my, social media thing I did for about a decade to push back against, ,the siloing of youth liberation being only a school’s issue.
I chose solidarity. I’ve had some debates with some poli sci people about not using liberation or justice and I did it on, I did it intentionally because it’s about right now. It’s not about a future justice, liberation. That’s what we’re all working towards, and they sort of go together, but solidarity can happen immediately in the way that you can hold the nuance of difficult situations, and one of my examples that I like to use, because I have consent to talk about it is, being in solidarity with two kids who are 10 years apart in age and being in solidarity with both of them in a way that they both felt feel heard and held, but also being called in to have solidarity for each other.
And that was sort of where it was in practice the most, but also , you know, with the other adult in the house and, we had that kind of solidarity flowing where he worked a lot and, their dad and my partner, Chris, he worked a lot and he was maxed out. He also does a lot of the domestic stuff cause he’s good at it.
And I have health stuff, and he would be maxed out sometimes and he would, you know, that fuse I talked about earlier would go off and we had it, we had it, it was very open that my youngest could come and say, you know I’m having a difficult time with Chris and not throw him under the bus, but also have my kids like complete safety in place, emotional safety or whatever, and just like talk to them both about what’s happening in the dynamic. What do they both need? So there’s just, it’s really, it’s really, , it’s really concrete to me. You know, Kropotkin, like he flipped between mutual aid and solid, they, they were the same word to him. And, and I agree. And so mutual aid, like when you branch it out out of material needs, you know, and think about care and love, like it is about solidarity.
It is about like, my, my love, my self love, my self care, my needs are also part of this, composition of relationships and, and how we can all find thriving in the home , and it’s, you know, is that, I feel like that was probably a little abstract, but
Eleanor: it was kind of an abstract question.
There’s so many people who I mean, I’ve even been in radical spaces like, and people would be always welcome to bring their kids because so many people had kids. And I saw a mom hit her kid.
I saw like… and we are so radical in our anti oppression politics, except for the most vulnerable people in our society. Like what…
carla: yeah, it’s really heartbreaking. I, you know, I always have this thing where you could you could, If some of the statements that come out like comparing Trump to kids, or there’s just a whole slew of ways that kids get violently brought up in conversation, and if you just replace kid with any other marginalized group you would see you see the problem instantly, totally see the problem instantly.
And I, I invite people in to do that exercise. When you are having an impulse to call somebody childish or children like or whatever, just replace it with another marginalized group and maybe don’t do it publicly cause you’ll, you know, you’ll be canceled because you’ll, but you’ll immediately see like, Oh my gosh. Right. How Violent this is and luckily a lot of those little kids aren’t online seeing like, I always think about the kid at home being like, wow, my parents must not like me. They compare me all the time to this person they hate. What’s happening. And also I have no power. Opposite of Trump. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Totally. You know, but it’s an impulse. It’s an impulse. It’s an, it’s, it’s not an impulse. It’s a reflexive way of, you know, it’s just part of the vernacular. We, you know, we’ve, we’ve all been trained not to use ableist slurs anymore. We all did forever.
It’s, it’s, it’s part of that, that work. And, it’s definitely one of the things I like to put out in the world.
Eleanor: Yeah. Which you do so brilliantly. So. Yeah, I mean, this conversation could go on for days, but is there anything that you wanted to that you’d like to add that maybe I didn’t touch on or anything that you’d like to highlight?
carla: Yeah, I think, , just like two things: reiterate that this is an invitation to all adults. Anybody who has fallen into the trap of adulthood, and the power that comes with it , you are invited in to confront your supremacy, and then the second piece, because it’s something that gets brought up a lot is that ageism is at both ends.
So there’s, and I want to demistify that a little bit. So the elders, yes, they lose some of their power, but they have rights. They have rights that kids don’t have, and they have a lot of rights. And so you can’t, that has to, that has to stop being conflated. It’s a very different situation.
It’s an important area of conflict and struggle that needs to be addressed, but they have rights. Kids do not. And kids don’t even have physical rights in a lot of cases. So, there’s so much work to do. And this is just a loving, caring invitation into, let’s work on helping kids have better thriving lives.
Now, not in some utopian future.
Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Crystal Mello
Eleanor: thanks everyone for joining us at the Project Censored Radio Show. We’re very glad right now to be joined by Crystal Mello, who’s a mom, a Nana, and a small local business owner who’s been fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline since 2018 when she realized it was planned for her community.
Crystal, thanks so much for joining us.
Crystal: Thank you.
Eleanor: So, real quick, before we get into the, to, to the meat of this, , project, could you just tell folks what your connection is to the Mountain Valley Pipeline? ,
Crystal: well, it’s crossing through my town, it’s, I live locally, so I’m an impacted community member. I’m not in the blast zone, but have many friends and people I love that are.
Eleanor: Gotcha. And, so I want to start with recent news about the pipeline because, , work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline had been blocked by the 4th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, even after Congress ordered the project’s approval as part of the debt ceiling bill. , then the Supreme Court, in classic, Supreme Court fashion stepped in in July to make a terrible decision, allowing construction to resume and the Biden administration backed the company in calling for the Supreme Court’s intervention, , and the Fourth Circuit panel did not immediately rule on the Mountain Valley’s pipeline motion motion to dismiss challenges to the project over concerns about the pipeline’s impact on endangered species, erosion, and stream sedimentation. ,
and, , D. J. Gerken, who’s the executive director of the Southern Environmental Law Center, said after the decision, quote, All the Supreme Court did today was weigh in on a preliminary stay. The Fourth Circuit still has the meat of the case, and they can still grant final relief, end quote.
So, Crystal, I wanted to talk about this, because the precedent of including forced construction of a highly contested pipeline in a debt ceiling relief bill is, oh, it’s unheard of. , and I’m curious how that’s affected, , how folks are fighting on the ground against MVP, because to my knowledge, using the courts had been a stalling tactic that it had been successful, , up till now.
Crystal: / currently, there are two people locked down to equipment on Poor Mountain. , that’s what’s happening as of right now. , but. monitoring seems to be the only way. Yeah, they’ve taken all our cards away, right? Like, so we all feel pretty much like we have nobody to protect us now. It is 100% us protecting us.
, That that’s what we’re rallying folks for is just to come monitoring the work. We know back in 2018 2019 when they were actively working, they occurred well over 500 violations, but 300 during that. the time I’m talking they’ve been violated a lot. , So we know that’s going to happen again because nothing’s changed from the last time they were working, except this time they’re here now like you can’t touch us attitude, you know, It’s it seems so much harsh this time because we kind of that hopes been taken away that you know we can stop this, but folks are geared up more people than ever like wanting to come down trying to learn how to monitor construction water crossings.
So all that feels really good. Apparently to come down and do lockdowns. , There’s been multiple onsite people just walking on site and stopping work for hours. I think that’s happened every day this week. , but with that, we know comes that police presence and, and, and all the other things that that’s. the downfall
Eleanor: and so far, I mean, it’s only been going on for a short time so far, but I’m curious how, , how are people being treated in terms of like, we saw in Atlanta, people were being charged with terrorism for trying to protect trees. Are you all seeing any kind of similar reaction so far?
Crystal: This is the first lockdown today that has taken place in a couple of years.
So I guess we’ll see what happens. , You know, if I’m sure when they get extracted, we’ll, we’ll find out what the charges will be. , So I can’t say, but that is a fear of mine because I have seen how they’ve. you know, the stuff going on in Atlanta is crazy and it feels a lot like what’s happening here.
, The people in Atlanta do not want that and it’s happening anyway and such great organization, , organizing going on down there. I know there’s, , a whole bunch of people went in to get signatures, I think, by today. , So I hope they feel that that solidarity and , because I know we’re feeling it a bit here with people reaching out like what can we do, what can we do, and that that’s a good feeling and it, it keeps me wanting to fight also is knowing other people are going to be behind us. But yeah, I don’t know. A few years ago, though, , to West Virginia, where 200 miles of this pipeline goes through, they do have a critical infrastructure law. It hasn’t been used yet. , but two folks at lockdown did get, , like a preliminary charges or whatever of, , threats of terrorism or something for locking down.
The charges never went through. Maybe the grand jury didn’t, whoever meets to decide if that’s a thing, didn’t decide that was a thing. , but that, that’s you know, you look at what happened on January 6th, and then you’re like, calling these people terrorists, but these guys, like, it’s, you know, we know the system’s unjust all the way around, and more and more people with this pipeline, I do believe are realizing that because now they’re seeing it from another angle where maybe they’ve lived in a place of privilege or, you know, not having to have many interactions with the police. They are having that now. , and just realizing you’re, you’re right here with us friends . You know, they’re gonna, they’re, they’re learning also. And that’s sad to see.
Eleanor: Yeah. It, it is. And I’m curious, ’cause you had mentioned, you know, violations that had happened during construction and I feel like, you know, in, in, in corporate media, people will sometimes report that, oh, this pipeline leaked, or this pipeline exploded.
But no one ever on corporate media talks about the destruction that happens during construction. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about like how incredibly destructive just the construction of a pipeline can be and what and some examples of what we’ve already seen with the Mountain Valley pipeline, even though it’s not finished.
Crystal: Well, there’s people now without water because of the pipeline that have to cart water and, , there’s people who have lost farms because the way our terrain is, it’s karst, we have a lot of caves. So we have a lot of springs. I have a well, a lot of people have well water versus like, we don’t have city water or municipal water.
And, , so when they do this land moving, the water is still going to go. It’s just going to go somewhere else and it’s going to come out somewhere else. And and that’s that, you know, you can’t replace that. So, yeah, there’s people who have lost livestock or have had to sell their livestock because they no longer had, it’s like active well or spring that would fill up the water supply for the animals. And, , Maury Johnson in West Virginia ended up just cutting his water off last August, I think he said, just because of the sediment from the well and the filters and just where they’ve damaged his property. So. Yeah, the sediment into the rivers and streams and creeks.
We have them everywhere. The Roanoke log perch, you know, is part of that, , endangered species. And, , that’s my area. , The Canada otter’s a little bit further towards West Virginia. But just impacts like that. There’s coyotes right now. , one neighbor, , a bobcat was in their yard. But where they started this construction, the bears are running out of the woods, the coyotes.
So that has an impact on like, you know, people with chicken. Everybody around here has chickens. I have a dozen eggs that someone gave me the other day because everybody gives everybody eggs. And so just things like that. Housing. People can’t find places to rent or to park their campers right now because they’re filled with pipeliners, you know, so things like that.
And it’s, none of this is local jobs. They, they spew that local job business and it’s not. They were cleaning the porta potties a couple of weeks ago and it was an out of town truck. And I know there’s sanitation place up the road, and I’m like, we can’t even get people to clean. Like we have to, , you know, but the local jobs are waitresses probably making better tips, you know, for the time being, maybe hotel rooms staying full during the winter, but. Somebody who I know let me know that there’s some pipeliners at a hotel who came in drunk not long ago and was harassing the girl at the front desk, a very young girl. So, There’s all that. And the media says like it’s 97% done and that’s such a huge lie. It’s like 56 or 8% to full restoration per their own words to FERC filings that they have to do.
And, , another one after the Supreme Court had their ruling. The big headline was Supreme Court rules in favor of Mountain Valley Pipeline for its last three and a half miles left. And it’s like… do y’all research before you just say the things like, and these are like national news, you know, places so everybody of course is like, it’s only three more miles Crystal, what are you doing?
It’s like, it’s not three more miles. So all those mistruths. I spend a lot of time having to talk about how they’re not true and then when we could be talking about other things.
Eleanor: Yeah. And of course, that’s a very, , that’s a very convenient tactic that the media has to make it sound like, Oh, why are you making such a big deal? It’s already done. , you know, they did that with a Bayou bridge pipeline down Louisiana. , and I think like, and, and with regards, with regards to that, I wanna, I wanna let folks know, first of all, FERC, that stands for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And that’s the, that’s the governing body that basically is supposed to look at pipelines and say, that’s a good idea, that’s a bad idea, but they really just rubber stamp all of them.
But I want to mention because the Mountain Valley Pipeline project has been going on for really quite some time. It was first proposed in 2014 and they initially said it’d be done in 2018. But that obviously didn’t happen. But in 2018, however, the company wentered announced a proposed extension to the 303 mile pipeline, which would extend from Pittsylvania County, Virginia into North Carolina’s Rockingham and Alamance counties, and would require a massive polluting compressor station in a predominantly Black community near Chatham, Virginia.
So, Crystal, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about, like, you’re, you’re saying that it’s, it’s not at all 90% done, like, what are we looking at in terms of the original plan of the 303 miles? And then the Southgate extension, like what, what parts are even close to done or what are, what’s the status there on the ground?
Crystal: Well, I just heard today, which I’ll go down there as soon as well in just a little bit, that they’re digging in a spot in Montana that they had to abandon in 2018 because they couldn’t get the water to stop. It just like. And they have to that’s their bore site under 1 road for people to get in and out of this community.
That road leads to where we had the Yellow Finch tree sits for 932 days. So it will bore under that road, two sets of train tracks, 460, which is like a four lane route, and then the Roanoke River. So that’s where they’re digging at today. They have the steepest terrain left, hundreds of water bodies left to bore, , it’s going to be ugly.
It’s they have the hardest parts left to do, and the Southgate extension, you know, people may, so there’s like the citizens airboard that denied that permit so then that citizens airboard was disbanded. It was a year ago, this July. I think this July 1st made it a year. But it was right after, I think that ruling happened in December, maybe somewhere in that time.
I think there’s been so many court dates and that’s another thing that’s tricky about this whole stuff. Like, I do jail work. Like, we started a bail fund, right? So I have never been involved in any environmental before this. Going through this process and all the different courts and, it’s impossible for a single parent who has a day job to get involved.
I mean, I see why people cannot show up all the time because it’s hard work and it’s a dedication. And I’m fortunate for the people in this area who do that and have guided me and taught me things. But to read the stuff, like the FERC stuff and all that, those are things people just don’t know about that are making these huge decisions for people like me.
Right around this, crossing here in our town, there’s like four, five trailer parks. You know, like they just make decisions for areas of places that are already impacted. MVP has also bought 64 acres right here in my town, which could be possibly for a compressor station. It hasn’t been announced yet, but that’s a real fear that we’re going to be looking at. People are steadily looking at the docket for for whatever permit they have to get for that. Grateful for that. But again, those are things people like everyday people like me, they don’t know to be looking, they don’t know that they bought that 64 acres.
They don’t know where, like, there’s no, a friend said, it’s not like they have a red ribbon cutting, you know, and they make it so, so everybody really knows about what’s going on. They do all this stuff behind closed doors, and you have people in town here who are like, this is for the good. We need this.
And it’s like, do you even know, like, it’s petroleum. I’m like, sir, it is not petroleum. So just the misinformation again makes it hard.
Eleanor: So is any part of Southgate constructed yet?
Crystal: No. And they pulled back their, , whatever they needed to be able to do the eminent domain, but they, , with prejudice.
So I guess they can still go forward and do it. But I think the governor, they just had a big FERC comment party had like, I don’t know, like, maybe 40 close to 40, 000 comments and and petitions signed. Their governor is against it. You know, so that that’s helpful. I’m hoping they won’t have to deal with this.
I’m hoping that this is drove them. This project is double the 3 point original billion dollars. It was ,it’s up to, like, 6. 7 billion dollars now. So I’m just hoping people won’t, they’ll just be like, we’re not. I don’t know. You know, but I’m hoping they’re not going to push forward on that.
Eleanor: So kind of wrapping up here, I’m curious that, I mean, you, you said that today there are a couple of folks locked down and, , we’re, we’re talking about the diversity of tactics. What are folks on the ground asking for, for others to do, or how can others get involved, even if they can’t be there on the front lines?
Like what, how can we show up in those ways like that kind of solidarity that you mentioned at the beginning?
Crystal: Well, the folks doing the action on the ground are Appalachians Against Pipelines. , and so they have a good social media presence.
Speaking from power, there’s powhr. org, P O W H R, Protect Our Water Heritage Rights, , that website stays pretty updated. We’re having a gathering in Sweet Springs , West Virginia at the end of the month to have some training classes on and it’s free free on camping. , food, , music, , and some trainings on different ways to get involved.
And there’s, there’s many ways. There’s definitely a diversity of tactics of different ways to get involved. So, yeah, I would check out powhr. org. We’ve been doing a thing monthly, like a little zoom thing: we protect us and that we’ve had people, from the pipeline safety trust, locals, a lawyer who just kind of give updates, and then during that call, there’s usually ways to get involved, ways to tap in. With the, Appalachian Voices, you can also probably get this on the POWHR page, but we’re going to have a PHMSA comment party next week. We’re sending messages into PHMSA, who’s oversees these pipelines.
We had a pipeline explode up 81 last week, two and a half weeks ago. Everything seems like just last week. It was a much smaller pipeline. , so that’s another problem is the pipes. They’ve been sitting out for a ridiculous amount of time and through all the elements. Per their own people who constructed, , did the coding, 3M suggested that they not be out longer than six months. It’s been five years. So what they’ve done now is just painted the top one third of the pipe, because I guess only 1 3rd is the part that gets the elements. It’s crazy. This pipeline is so unsafe. The pictures I have of the coating buckling, the insides rusted, there’s raccoons living in this pipeline in some places. This is a dangerous project.
And, I feel there should be red alarms going off. This, this is not safe at all and it’s nothing that people living in trees or locking down their equipment has caused because they like to use that if y’all would just get out of the way we could do the job. They’re doing a horrible job and I always say we hold people at fast food restaurants more accountable for napkins and straws than we’re holding a company that’s placing a bomb in some of the steepest mountains in this region.
And, and, and the top, most top tier drinking water, we have to protect Appalachia. This place is so green and just the ecosystem here, things are burning everywhere, the oceans are stinking, we have to protect this area. Cause this in my heart, I feel like this is where people are going to come in the future when all hell goes out west and along the coast. And, and I hate to be an alarmist like that never have been, but that’s a reality. Those are facts. These things are happening. There’s people without water out west right now. So that makes it even more important to protect this area. The folks suffering in the Gulf horrible, but they don’t need any more LNG export facilities.
This has to stop here. By any means necessary.