Coal mined from the Appalachian mountains has provided inexpensive energy to consumers of electricity in the United States for centuries, and for centuries this energy has come at enormous environmental and personal cost to residents of the region. The deaths of 24 miners in the early months of 2006 bring to the fore once again the dire safety conditions still to be found in the coal mines.

In tribute to those who lost their lives this year, and in solidarity with the families and colleagues who continue working to improve conditions, Labor Arts presents a retrospective of photographs by Builder Levy from the mines and mining communities of Appalachia from 1968-1982.

Photographer Builder Levy first traveled to Appalachia to photograph coal miners in 1968. Since that time, he has made many return visits to photograph the life and culture of the mountain coal miner, building a socially and esthetically significant collection of photographs of which these are but a sampling. Levy has worked as a photographer and as a teacher of at-risk students in the New York City schools for over three decades, and both callings reveal his social conscience and his sense of responsibility.

Do you think about mountain top removal or miners dying when you waste a little energy just because you can? The connection between individual citizens' lives and the ravages of coal mining can be seen as coal- fired plants play an increased role in recent energy plans, while conservation lags. Mining coal by removing entire mountain tops is the biggest threat Appalachian mine communities face in the new millennium. Builder Levy's recent photographs of this process can be seen in the photo essay "Revisiting the Appalachian Coalfield."


Appalshop, a multi-disciplinary arts and education center based in Whitesburg Kentucky.

Diane Gilliam Fisher, Kettle Bottom (Perugia Press, 2004), poetry that speaks of "the emotional truth of coal-camp history," in the words of one reviewer.

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth has developed the Canary Project [link to ] to raise awareness about the dangers from coal.

"The High Cost of Cheap Coal" in the March 2006 National Geographic.

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, residents of Appalachia fighting the destruction of mountain-top removal mining.

United Mine Workers of America, featuring the March 2006 testimony about safety in coal mines from union president Cecil E. Roberts before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.



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