10 September 2012


Some people are too important to die. The effort they make inspires too many, the work they do has too large an impact, and their selflessness and generosity propel so many others to great efforts. One cannot imagine that they are mortal.

Though short in stature, Larry Gibson was a giant of a man. In life, he did more to fight mountaintop removal mining (MTR, one of the great environmental injustices of our day) than any other person. His tireless campaigning and constant willingness to guide journalists, activists, and concerned citizens through the scenes of this nightmare were both an inspiration and an invaluable component of the effort to stop this crime.

Wanting to photograph MTR, I called Larry on recommendation from a friend, and he opened his home, his calendar, and his heart to me. I went to his place, adjacent to one of the largest MTR sites, numerous times, and Larry always had time to feed, house, and guide me.

One of the large coal mining companies had acquired the land around Larry and destroyed it, then used every possible method to take his. They killed his dogs, they sent bullies to intimidate him, they broke up his parties, and those are only the stories he shared with me. But, Larry was not a man to be intimidated.

The world is a smaller place now that Larry will not answer the phone with that thick West Virginia accent. But he still lives with all of us who loved and were inspired by him.

No comments: