Kentuckians taking a Just Transition message to People’s Climate March

Eastern Kentuckians participating in this weekend’s People's Climate March in New York City are carrying a clear message: We are at the forefront of the transition away from coal and we need to be put first as we go about building a new economy.

For Kimberly Shepherd, it’s about her daughter and her future. She is working toward a just economic transition so she can keep her family in the mountains.

“The solution is complicated. I don't think that there's one thing that can fix it, it'll take a lot of different things. But the resource we really have in Harlan County is our people and community,” said the Harlan County student and mother.

“I think we're all probably working for the same thing – a life for our families. And we owe it to coal miners lost to fight for something better for their kids and their land,” she added.

Resources

KFTC's Just Transition Framework

Kentucky Events

Berea: Gather on the lawn of the Kentucky-Talcott dorms on the Berea College campus at 11:30 a.m. for a march that will end with a festival on the Quad.

Lexington: Gather at Triangle Park (400 W. Main St.) and march down Main Street to the Courthouse Plaza where there will be a rally. More info.

Louisville: Gather at Louisville Memorial Park (971 S. Fourth St.) at 12 noon for a rally, speakers and music. More info.

Cincinnati: Gather at 12 noon at Theodore M Berry International Friendship Park. More info.

Social Media

Follow what’s happening in New York at

Twitter: #PeoplesClimate

Facebook: Our Power Campaign

Shepherd, Stanley Sturgill from Lynch and other members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth from throughout the state will participate in the People’s Climate March on Sunday. The march comes as world leaders gather next week at the United Nations to address global warming pollution.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to rally to demand that world leaders take action to move to a Just Transition that will create millions of meaningful jobs by building the infrastructure to address the climate crisis from clean community power, local food systems and energy-efficient housing.

For Sturgill, his participation also is about family.

"I love my family and am going to the march to let them know that I know I’m old, but I also see a nation of young people and want to give them a future of a safe environment," said Sturgill, retired after 41 years as an underground coal miner and mine inspector.

“I know there is, indeed, global warming. But, I also see that things can be changed. I see that we do not have to destroy our world. I will fight against the destructive methods of mining and fracking until I die in order to have a healthy, safe, environment for my family and all the future generations after I’m gone."

KFTC members in Harlan County and eastern Kentucky have been pushing for a Just Transition for years. In April 2013, they held the first Appalachia’s Bright Future conference in Harlan that brought more than 200 people together to begin developing a shared vision for the next economy in Appalachia.

And this past weekend KFTC sponsored a followup event that showcased efforts in Harlan and Letcher counties already underway to build a strong local economy in the mountains and make communities here great places to live.

KFTC’s transition efforts are guided by several principles: inclusion, participation and collaboration; innovation and self-reliance; good, stable, meaningful jobs; broad access to opportunities; and improved quality of life, among others.

They are encouraging elected leaders to commit to a longer-term and “inclusive public planning process aimed at shaping a shared vision and identifying key strategies.”

“Everyone is going to have to realize we’re going to have to change,” said Sturgill, who will be one of three national speakers at a press conference Sunday in New York. “If we want to get an economy back anywhere near like it once was, we’re going to make some change. We’re going to have to look at something new.”