Friday Video: Activist Larry Gibson: An American Hero Remebered

Image from State

Today’s Friday Video is taken from the film, YERT (Your Environmental Roadtrip), a a sustainable solutions documentary produced by Ben Evans in the Spring of 2008. One of the people featured in the film was environmental activist Larry Gibson, a staunch advocate against mountain top removal. Gibson  passed away this past week at the age of sixty-six.

Ben E. Evans, the film’s producer, wrote a touching remembrance of Gibson for the Huffington Post, and put together this video of clips from the film to honor Gibson’s legacy.  Gibson speaks of his passion for his home and the numerous sacrifices he has made fighting big coal. From Evan’s Huffington Post column:

We had just been blown away by the sprawling devastation of mountaintop-removal coal mining from 3,000 feet in the air and thought were ready to see it first hand on the ground. But nothing could have prepared us for the overwhelming hellscape we witnessed from the edge of his land — just like nothing could have prepared us for the generous spirit, joyful heart, limitless courage, and cast-iron will packed into a person who, though he stood barely 5 feet, was truly a giant among men… a giant who used to look up at the mountains around him but now, had no choice but to look down on the surrounding wreckage.

He canvased the world in his familiar neon green hat and shirt shouting from the figurative and literal mountaintop about the greatest ecological crime in American history. And at home, Larry walked the walk — how could he not? His bare-bones little cabin ran on two small solar panels that powered a single, naked lightbulb while a tiny fan harvested the convection from his modest wood stove. At the end of our interview, Larry told us what he told everyone who came up onto his mountain: “If you come here and see this and you don’t do anything about it, then you’ve wasted my time. You have to share what you’ve seen, what you’ve heard. You have to do something to help.” That stuck with us.

Gibson was the man behind the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation (KOTM), which was created to help fund his efforts “to preserve and foster the values of mountain culture” and support his “ongoing effort to tell the story of the destruction of Kayford Mountain and the surrounding community as a result of mountain top removal.”  The “On the Road Again” program, an arm of KOTM sought to “educate others on the devastating effects of Mountaintop Removal Mining by telling our personal stories and experiences of living in and around the coalfields of West Virginia.”

To learn more, share your own stories about Gibson, and denote to the continued work of fighting mountaintop removal, visit

And you can read Jeff Bigger’s remembrance here.