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Chad A. Stevens

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Standing Up for Appalachia

Posted: 11/23/11 12:53 PM ET

America's energy industry has a dirty secret: Our nation's electricity comes from blasting and leveling our country's pristine mountains. They do it for one reason: destroying mountains creates more profits, faster, than traditional coal mining.

So, what can concerned citizens do when simply turning on our lights destroys our precious natural areas?

Well, we decided to make a film. Already, 1.2 million acres of America's mountains have been destroyed by the highly-destructive practice of mountaintop removal. Each day three million pounds of explosives are detonated in Appalachia, releasing chemicals, like Arsenic and Sellenium, into the watersheds.

There must be a better way to generate energy, right? It turns out there is, and the subject of our film -- a West Virginia grandmother -- has found it.

Our team has spent four years documenting Lorelei Scarbro's courageous fight to save her home in a way no one has ever tried before: by building the first green, sustainable energy project in Appalachia, The Coal River Wind Farm. In southwestern West Virginia -- an area that has been ravaged by mountaintop removal -- one mountain remains: Coal River Mountain. And if Scarbro's plan is successful, the ridges of Coal River Mountain will be lined with 220 wind turbines, producing enough electricity to power 150,000 homes.

In November 2011, we launched a fundraiser to help bring this project to a national audience. The A Thousand Little Cuts Online Print Auction features signed prints from seven Pulitzer Prize winners, five National Geographic photographers, six Photographers of the Year (POYi and NPPA), two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award winners, one Guggenheim Fellow, and many legends of contemporary documentary photography. A few of the photographers you'll find include: Ed Kashi, David LaBelle, Carolyn Cole, Stephanie Sinclair, Liz O. Baylen, Bob Sacha, Matt Eich, Scott Strazzante, Alex Harris and Barbara Davidson.

Over 40 photographers have come together to support the documentary. If you're interested in browsing their work and supporting our efforts, please go here.