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Activist and Alum to Speak @ BC

Patricia Feeney, a water rights activist and 2005 Berea graduate, will speak at her alma mater May 3 at 3 p.m. in Phelps Stokes Chapel. In her presentation "Water Rights Are Human Rights: A Berea Graduate’s Journey to Justice in the Appalachian Coal Fields," Feeney will address her efforts to clean up water contamination caused by coal mining in West Virginia.

Feeney as a Berea student

Feeney’s interest in the coal fields of Appalachia started while Feeney was a student at Berea College, where she worked locally and nationally with the Student Environmental Action Coalition to raise awareness of mountaintop removal and water contamination by the coal industry. While at Berea, Feeney was also involved in the nation-wide Student Energy Justice Movement, in addition to working closely with the Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS) program and HEAL (Helping the Earth and Learning) to promote a more environmentally sustainable campus at Berea College.

Her interest in attacking the problems related to mining and contamination lead to a Compton Mentor Fellowship in 2005, a 12-month grant that allowed her to support and organize the efforts of citizens in coalfield communities whose water had been contaminated by coal sludge. Her project, titled "Resources and Solidarity: Coalition Building for Water Security in Appalachian Mining Communities," focused on producing resources and water security for citizens in coalfield communities and organizing a delegation of Appalachian coalfield residents to attend the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.

Feeney currently works as a community organizer in Mingo County, W.Va., as a staff member of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and preserving the environment in West Virginia. OVEC works with community volunteers to protect the environment in which they live from mountaintop removal and coal sludge contamination. For more about OVEC, visit www.ohvec.org.

This event is the 2006-2007 Berea College Service Convocation and is co-sponsored by the Campus Christian Center and the Center for Excellence in learning through Service (CELTS). The program is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Meta Mendel-Reyes, director of the Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service at (859) 985-3940

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