Inside Story

West Virginia activist Julia Bonds has been interviewed many times, especially after winning the 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize. But before Beth Newberry spoke with her last Labor Day weekend for the profile in this issue, no journalist had asked Julia about her faith. She was thrilled to have the opportunity to describe how scripture and her experience of God guides her in the fight against the destructive coal mining practices of her region.

While visiting Julia, Beth was taken by organizer Bo Webb up a mountainside to see how the strip-mining near his home was taking down the mountains hill by hill. Bo had been born in the area, worked elsewhere for many years, but returned because of his love of the mountains-only to find them being slowly erased. His love is so deep that he's had a full-color rendering of the ridge he showed Beth tattooed onto one of his forearms. He held up his arm and pointed out to her the mountaintops that once had been.

The passion and dedication of Julia Bonds and her colleagues was inspiring for both Beth and the photographer who accompanied her, David Flores. David, who calls himself a "ninja Catholic," noted that at the time of their visit, in the midst of pre-election frenzy, it seemed that the only people in the news were completely focused on what the world could do for them and how to shape it to their benefit. In sharp contrast, he said, "Julia looks at what she owes the world and can do for other people." That's the kind of faith that can move mountains - or protect them. - The Editors

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Sojourners Magazine March 2005
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