For students enrolled in Practicum in Liberal Arts: Community Development in Appalachia, spring break is the opportunity to learn in the company of others, first at the 34th Annual Appalachian Studies Conference, then at the Clearfork Community Institute in Eagan, TN.
In one corner of the exhibitor area of the ASA Conference, a giant mural is stretched across two walls. The 3-year graphic design project by Main’s Beehive Collective depicts the “true cost of coal.” The mural, say the Bees, is an “echo of discussions, story-tellings, and song-sharings that have taken place since 2008 between the Beehive Collective and community organizers, activists, and folks in Appalachia whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by Mountaintop Removal coal mining (MTR).”
One Bee, Beatriz, took time to explain to our students the elaborate design which emerged from conversations with hundreds of citizens in Appalachian community. The story moves from Native peoples habitation of the land, through colonization to industrialization, from climate chaos to resistance, and, finally, to regeneration. Over 100 native animal and plant species are depicted, and the mural–as well as resulting posters and graphic images available for free for non-commercial use on their Web site–is a nice example of art and design used to stimulate public discussion.