Apr 19 2010
Goldman Prize Winner Maria Gunnoe
Today I would like you to read and listen to some stories about Goldman Prize winner Maria Gunnoe. First, let me explain about the Goldman Prize. The Goldman Environmental Prize is an award for “grassroots environmentalists.” “Grassroots environmentalists” are regular people who work to fix some environmental problems in their neighborhood or region. It’s not an award for well-known environmental organizations, for example. The award is given to six people every year, one from each of six different parts of the world. The award is for $150,000. Last year the award for North America went to Maria Gunnoe, of Bob White, West Virginia.
Maria Gunnoe has lived in a little town in West Virginia for all her life. Her family has been there for generations. This part of West Virginia is famous for coal, which is used to power energy plants. For years, miners worked to bring coal up from the mines, but now there is a new way to get coal. The new way uses fewer workers, but is devastating (very bad) for the environment. It is called “Mountaintop Removal.”
In mountaintop removal, the company blows off the top of a mountain to get to the coal. The mountain is gone. The valleys get filled. The water gets spoiled. Maria Gunnoe stood up to the coal companies, a very dangerous thing to do in West Virginia. She testified (gave her opinion in court) and helped stop some mountaintop removal. Because of that, she needs protection from people who want to hurt her, burn down her house, shoot her dog, etc.
I thought her story was interesting, and I would like to show you some links for more information. One of them is a video on the Goldman Prize site. It is just for listening, because there is no script. Another is an interview on another site, but for that one you can listen first and then look at the script. Do your best, and if you think it’s too hard, you don’t have to continue, but if you try, I am pretty sure you will find it interesting.
First, click to go to the Goldman Prize Website. There is a picture of Maria Gunnoe on the right side of the page. It says, “Click to Play”. Click on the picture and then click on the arrow to start the video. You can replay it or stop it if you want.
When you finish that video, click to go to the interview with Maria Gunnoe called Defending the Mountains. Click on RealAudio for this Story to hear the interview. After you listen to the interview once, you can listen to it again and read the transcript as well. The transcript is below the picture.
Now that you have seen a video and listened to an interview, post an answer to my questions: What do you think about Maria Gunnoe? Had you ever heard of the Goldman Prize before? Do you think it was a good idea to give her that award? Did you understand enough of the interviews to make the lesson worthwhile for you or was it too hard?