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Photo by Emily Wright

Do you want to learn more about the Coal River Valley? Research how wind energy could change our country's energy picture? Learn to play old-time music? Engage in the debate about mountaintop removal mining? Aurora Lights has focused on one community, rich with stories and songs. The Appalachian mountains are full of stories, and it is our hope that Aurora Lights is only a jumping-off point for people interested in hearing and telling these stories.  Below are some groups and projects which have deeply influenced or helped Aurora Lights.

You may also want to check out our Activist Resources page.


Tending the Commons

Tending the Commons is a Library of Congress archive, including thousands of photographs, audio recordings, and documents recounting the history and culture of the Coal River Valley and surrounding areas. Tending the Commons is a rich resource of oral histories and compelling photographs.

Two photographs from the Coal River Valley, which link to music. Photos courtesy of Tending the Commons archive.



West Virginia Humanities Council

The West Virginia Humanities Council is a private, nonprofit organization providing lifelong learning opportunities to the state's citizens.  WVHC serves as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The humanities lead us to a deeper understanding of the human experience. They explore the story of our time and culture and that of others. Each year, citizens of all ages explore their own and the larger human story through programs which use history, literature, comparative religion, philosophy, ethics, and more. Our programs are meant to get people thinking and talking with each other.



Appalshop is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken-word recordings, radio, photography, multimedia, and books.

Our education and training programs support communities' efforts to solve their own problems in a just and equitable way. Each year, Appalshop productions and services reach several million people nationally and internationally.

Appalshop is dedicated to the proposition that the world is immeasurably enriched when local cultures garner the resources, including new technologies, to tell their own stories and to listen to the unique stories of others. The creative acts of listening and telling are Appalshop's core competency.


The descriptions above are taken from the organizations themselves—in some cases verbatim.



HEARTWOOD is a regional network that protects forests and supports community activism in the eastern United States through education, advocacy, and citizen empowerment.

HEARTWOOD was founded in 1991, when concerned citizens from several midwestern states met and agreed to work together to protect the heartland hardwood forest.



Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future by Jeff Goodell.  Houghton Mifflin Harcout, 2009.

Bringing Down the Mountains: the Impact of Mountaintop Removal on Southern West Virginia Communities by Shirley Stewart Burns. West Virginia University Press, 2007.

Azrael on the Mountain by Victor Depta. Blair Mountain Press, 2002.

Missing Mountains: We Went to the Mountaintop But It Wasn’t There by Kristin Johansen, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Mary Ann Taylor-Hall. Wind Publications, 2005.

Moving Mountains: How One Woman and Her Community Won Justice from Big Coal by Penny Loeb. The University Press of Kentucky, 2007.

Strange as this Weather has Been: A Novel by Ann Pancake. Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007.

Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness by Erik Reece. Riverhead Books, 2006.

Coal River by Michael Shnayerson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

The Long Haul by Myles Horton. Teachers College Press, 1997.



Beyond Measure: Appalachian Culture and Economy. dir. Herb E. Smith, Appalshop, 1994.

Grassroots Small Farm. VHS. dir. Anne Lewis, Appalshop, 1988.

Landowner’s Guide to Sustainable Forestry: Maximizing Profits While Protecting Water Quality. DVD. Produced by Appalachian Voices, 2006.

Microenterprise in West Virginia: NOT Business as Usual. Produced by Digital Vision Works, 2000.