10 Years of I Love Mountains Days

I Love Mountains Day slideshow

KFTC and friends have had 10 years of great success with I Love Mountains Day, bringing thousands to the capital in February to let elected leaders know of our love for Kentucky’s people and mountains, our determination to stop their destruction, and our vision for Appalachia’s Bright Future. Last year KFTC leadership decided that the 2015 I Love Mountains Day would be our last.

Just as we tried over the decade to evolve the theme of I Love Mountains Day from one of just protest against mountaintop removal, valley fills and environmental destruction to one that also included value-based solutions like clean energy and economic justice for all, KFTC’s legislative strategy also has evolved.

We started this year with the We Are Kentuckians rally on January 5, the first day of the new legislative session. Speakers across the state spoke eloquently of what we all want to see for our commonwealth – support for workers and families and protection for our mountains. It was our intention to help frame the public and political debate at the very beginning of the session and the new administration. We had a larger than expected crowd, including a strong presence from allies like labor union locals, fairness groups and health care advocates.

Another component to our evolving strategy is to have more at-home meetings with legislators. Our experience is that legislators often are deluged with messages, so they look for and pay the most attention to what their own constituents have to say. We are helping to make those at-home meetings happen, and making direct contact with legislators available to more people who can’t travel to Frankfort. (If you’d like help setting up an at-home meeting with your legislator, contact your local KFTC organizer or Jessica Hays Lucas at 859-276-0563  or  jessicabreen@kftc.org.)

The first few I Love Mountains Days were just lobby days (no rally) that focused on conversations with legislators. We had strong participation, and the desire to have a more publicly visible presence led to the decision to include a rally. A few years later, we added the half-mile march from the Kentucky River, to heighten our presence and symbolically make the connection to water. I Love Mountains Day quickly became a landmark event during the legislative session, drawing more than a thousand participants during its peak years.

Those large rallies took a lot of organizational capacity. It was a great way for people to participate, but actually lessened our direct contact with legislators – another reason to shift our strategy.

We ask you to celebrate with us the great 10-year run for I Love Mountains Day, and find new ways to be involved in KFTC’s legislative strategy this year.