KFTC celebrates 10 years of I Love Mountains Day

“We are here to express our love for Kentucky and our belief in its bright future,” said KFTC Chairperson Dana Beasley Brown as she welcomed the crowd to KFTC’s tenth I Love Mountains Day.

Frigid winds and snow flurries couldn’t compete with New Power as hundreds of people from across Kentucky marched up Capital Avenue and rallied on the capitol steps for a brighter future for Kentucky.

Beasley Brown thanked KFTC members for “your vision, your courage and your persistence” and recognized the many communities across Kentucky who were represented in the crowd.

“While we have come to know this day as I Love Mountains Day, it is truly our love for Kentucky that unites us.”

Randy WilsonLong-time member Randy Wilson acknowledged the power of 10 years of I Love Mountains Day and repeated a passage from 1 John in the Bible:

“Life, this is our subject, and we are sharing it with you to make our joy complete.”

Wilson remembered Daymon Morgan, a longtime KFTC leader who passed away last year, who had been a champion of the mountains and had walked the hills around his home, showing Wilson the many native plants.

Wilson spoke of the future of Kentucky, where energy efficient schools and homes can save energy and create jobs. He told of Elijah Collett, who lives in “one of the tightest hollers in eastern Kentucky” and saved up to install solar panels on his property.

“We are here and continue to make our way because of these witnesses to life and joy,” Wilson said.

Long-time KFTC leader Teri Blanton expressed appreciation for everyone in the crowd and the thousands of others who have marched together over the years.

“Over the past ten years, I Love Mountains Day has become a beautiful expression of Kentucky’s own New Power movement,” Blanton said.

Kimberly ShepherdMembers Kimberly Shepherd and Sean Hardy called for new solutions. Both Shepherd and Hardy attended the People’s Climate March in New York in September with hundreds of thousands of other people concerned about climate justice.

“The time to dismantle the current power and try something new is now,” said Shepherd, who lives in Harlan County and is working for a bright future for her young daughter.

Hardy, who lives in Louisville and serves on the Jefferson County Chapter's Air Quality Team, spoke of the public health impacts of polluting industries.

“We believe, through education, empowerment and letting our voices be heard, we can let our city officials and legislators know that our health is worth protecting,” said Hardy.

“As we move forward, we move in solidarity with those in eastern Kentucky who face strip-mining, mountaintop removal, and the toxic runoff created thereof," Hardy said. "We stand in solidarity with those who live where coal is burned and coal ash waste is stored. We demand stronger protections for the health and safety of mine workers, plant workers, AND the communities nearby. Together we stand in solidarity demanding that our state legislators hear our voices, whether it is around the issues of coal, water, air, or climate.”

Looking forward, Blanton reminded the crowd that the work to end destructive mining must be part of a much larger movement.

“We understand that there can’t be a climate movement over here, a racial justice movement over there, and a just economy movement somewhere else. We get the connections. We live in those intersections. We know that we are all in this together.”

The 10 years of I Love Mountains Day have laid a foundation for even more powerful future events – in Frankfort, in eastern Kentucky and in other communities.

“All of us are committed to building a movement that is big enough, diverse enough, inclusive and strong enough to challenge Old Power – and win,” said Blanton.

Media coverage from the day