Letter from Ann League
SOCM's Executive Director
Dear SOCM members,
It is with great pleasure and tremendous excitement that I greet you this New Year. I am extremely excited to introduce myself as the Executive Director for Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment. I am looking forward to working with all the members, staff, allies, and funders of our remarkable organization.
SOCM has been important to me for many years. My involvement with SOCM started with the threat to my home in Campbell County from a large Mountaintop Removal coal mine.
I learned many things from the extraordinary members and organizers I met while fighting that destructive coal mine. I learned how to research mining permits and how to make a citizens complaint. I learned that the agencies that are supposed to protect our home places don't always get the job done - they need a little nudge (sometimes a hard shove) from time to time to do their jobs, and SOCM was there to provide that nudge (shove). The most important thing I learned was that I have power! We have power! We can make a difference! I learned that, working together, SOCM members become a potent force for dealing with our community problems. Through organized planning, research, training, and action, our members can and do accomplish what individuals working alone can not attain.
I also learned that meetings are more productive when you bring food, preferably BBQ... smoked pork.
I am looking forward to starting in my new role as Executive Director. It is a great honor to dive into this position, which I'm sure will challenge me, educate me, and lead me to grow in important and unforeseen ways. I hope to help challenge and help educate members who will grow SOCM into an even more effective and powerful organization.
Thank You for Giving!
Whether you gave of your time, expertise, or money last year, we want you to know that you are appreciated. It is because of you that SOCM is starting the New Year strong. In 2015, we will continue to:
- Recruit new members and continue to diversify our membership across race, age, gender, class, etc.
- Strengthen our chapters and committees by providing opportunities for training and growth
- Develop new leaders, and particularly young leaders, who will sustain us for future generations
- Continue to build an anti-racist organization
- Work to influence decisions that will equalize funding and resources for Tennessee's public schools
- Stop destructive resource extraction including surface coal mining, fracking, and other resource extraction that adversely impact our communities
- Promote low or no interest energy efficiency loan programs with both rural electric co-ops and municipal utilities
- Monitor and watch for both threats within our existing work and opportunities for new work
- Protect the overall arching thread that binds us all together - OUR WATER!
We are starting 2015 strong; however, to continue our work we still need your support. Would you consider becoming a SOCM Sustainer in 2015 with a monthly or quarterly gift? Please contact Linda Cowan at the SOCM office for more information on how you can become a Sustainer.
Not interested in becoming a monthly or quarterly Sustainer but still want to make a donation? Please click the donate button.
Kingston's continuing fight over coal ash
SOCM joined a number of partners in late December to challenge TDEC and TVA over TDEC's approval of modification permits to the Kingston's gypsum disposal facility on the eastern side of the power plant, about half a mile from the site of the 2008 coal ash waste spill, the largest environmental disaster in America, of its kind.
Our members attended a poorly advertised public hearing on December 9th along with our partners in which only 2 community members were in attendance. Surprisingly, not even the Roane County Community Advisory Group (CAG) on the Kingston Ash Spill Remediation Project were informed of the public hearing. In addition to lack of adequate public notification and access to documentation*, major questions exist around the geological suitability of the site. (*under the SWM Permit tab, type IDL730000211 in the search function to link to the TVA Fossil Plant Gypsum Landfill information)
Unwilling to let this issue pass quietly, SOCM and its partners began a campaign to bring this to the attention of the Roane County community and other groups across the state. We jointly turned to media to raise awareness to ensure that the public had the tools necessary to let TDEC know their thoughts.
|Kingston coal ash spill|
As a result of the outcry, TDEC extended the comment deadline from December 19 to December 30, but we, along with our partners and the Roane County CAG, called for an extension to the comment deadline (to March 30, 2015), along with a request for TDEC to hold another public hearing. We have not yet received acknowledgment of this request.
An article in the December 29th edition of the Knoxville News Sentinel revealed that "TDEC was so comfortable with the design of the expansion that TVA was allowed to build the landfill expansion before the permit was approved," an issue which we are investigating. Join us and our partners in continuing to press TDEC and TVA for accountability to the community and transparent communication.
TDEC - Email: Greg.Luke@tn.gov or Pat.Flood@tn.gov Phone: 615-532-0874 Fax: 615-532-0938 Address: Division of Solid Waste Management, William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 14th Floor, Nashville, TN 37243
Office of Governor Bill Haslam, 1st Floor, State Capitol, Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2001 Email: Bill.firstname.lastname@example.org
Calls to Action
There are a number of public participation opportunities in the month of January, which we encourage you to get involved in.
Put the People First
Put the People First, of which SOCM is part of, is holding a statewide pray-in and action on Saturday January 17 (the day of Bill Haslam's inauguration) at Ryman Auditorium in Nasvhille (116 Fifth Avenue North, Nashville 37219). This moral action starts at 9am (CST) and is to "help launch a transformative moral movement to shift the trajectory of our state!" Put the People First campaigns on access to secure, good living wage jobs with fair benefits and protections; well-funded public education; healthcare, including affordable access, the expansion of Medicaid, women's health and environmental justice in every community; protection and expansion of voting rights, immigrant rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, the rights to speech and assembly; and addressing inequalities in the criminal justice system. Please join us! For more information, contact Mike Cannon (email@example.com)
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Water Resources Mining Section, on December 12, launched a Request for Public Comments on Draft Permit Actions for draft environmental permits on coal proposed issuances for National Coal's Deep Mines 8 (Scott County) and 10 (Campbell County) and Premium Coal Company's Area 18 (Anderson County); for coal proposed modifications / reissuances for Crossville Coal Inc.'s Turner Surface Mine (Cumberland County) and Premium Coal Company's Area 20 (Anderson County); and coal proposed termination for LCC Tennessee's Whitehead Mountain Refuse Area 2 (Scott County). The last day to comment on these is January 16, and you can view the draft permits on the
National Park Service
The National Park Service has opened a public commenting period on their proposal, along with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, to develop a remediation plan for mine drainage sites on the Kentucky side of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Comments are due by January 15th and can be emailed to the BISO Superintendent or phone 423-569-9778.
If you questions about any of these actions, please get in touch with SOCM at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-249-7488 - we'd be happy to help!
| Join SOCM!|
Your community needs you.
Cumberland County Chapter Meeting
3 - 4:30 p.m. CST
Art Circle Library
3 East Street, Crossville
Knoxville Chapter Meeting
Monday, Jan. 12
6 - 7:30 p.m. EST
2507 Mineral Springs Ave, Ste. D, Knoxville
Maury County Chapter Meeting
Monday, Jan. 12
6.30 - 8 p.m. CST
St. James Church
306 Bluegrass Ave., Mt. Pleasant
5th Annual MLK Day Celebration of Economic Justice
(co-sponsored by UWC & Jobs with Justice of E. TN (of which SOCM is a member))
Monday, Jan. 19
6 - 8 p.m. EST
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
2714 Brooks Ave., Knoxville
Rutherford County Chapter Meeting
Tuesday, Jan. 20
6:30 - 8 p.m. CST
130 Cannon Ave., Murfreesboro
Social Justice Committee Call
Wednesday, Jan. 21
7 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. CST
Email Dylan at
email@example.com for call-in details
MLK Community Conversation
Wednesday, Jan. 21
6:30 p.m. (refreshments)
7:00 p.m. (program) EST
Beck Cultural Exchance Center
1927 Dandridge Ave, Knoxville
SOCM Board Meeting
Saturday, Jan. 31
9.15 a.m - 4:30 p.m. CST
First United Methodist Church
415 West Main Street, Lebanon
See our Calendar on www.socm.org
for more information about these events.
New Years Resolutions: "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."
- Abraham Lincoln