Mountain Defender

Julia Bonds wears her faith and her mission as an environmental activist on a shirt that says "

Julia Bonds wears her faith and her mission as an environmental activist on a shirt that says "‘Stop destroying my mountains!’ -God."

As outreach coordinator of the Whitesville, West Virginia-based Coal River Mountain Watch, a watchdog and advocacy organization that works to end mountain top removal strip mining, Bonds, 52, has raised the attention of her mountain neighbors as well as the ire of the coal industry. In 2003 she catapulted into the international spotlight when she was one of seven activists from across the globe to win the Goldman Environmental Prize, the largest award ($125,000) given to grassroots environmentalists, sometimes referred to as the "Nobel Prize for the Environment."

It is not only the tenacity and vision of her efforts to end the practice of mountain top removal, or MTR—where coal companies use explosives to blast off the tops of mountains in order to more efficiently mine thin seams of coal with mammoth-sized machines and a limited number of workers—that makes Bonds a noteworthy activist. Whether she is testifying before congressional committees, speaking at a rally, or leading a lawsuit to strengthen environmental protections, her source for renewal and unwavering dedication to her cause is her relationship with God, grounded in a critical reading of the Bible.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2005
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