The True Cost of Coal
A swarm is coming to Ellsworth! The Beehive Design Collective is heading to UUCE after a nationwide tour with their long-anticipated “True Cost of Coal” graphics campaign. They will present their program at the UU Church of Ellsworth, beginning at noon on Sunday, December 12.
Three years in the making, “The True Cost of Coal” is an elaborate narrative illustration that explores the complex story of mountaintop removal coal mining and the broader impacts of coal in Appalachia and beyond. The image is the culmination of an intensive and collaborative research process, as the Beehive methodology centers on first hand story-sharing. To create the poster, the Beehive interviewed hundreds of community members throughout the Appalachia region. “We feel it’s extremely important to gather our information from as close to the source as possible,” a Beehive illustrator says.
The Bees craft visual metaphors and weave them together in a patchwork “quilt” of personal stories. In their interactive picture-lectures, the Bees lead audiences through an engaging, larger-than-life banner version of the graphic, interweaving anecdotes, statistics, and history. The experience prompts discussion and understanding of contemporary struggles about energy and coal, while honoring the deep legacy of the Appalachian experience. Upon seeing the graphic, Tanya Turner of Pineville, KY said, “This image is changing Appalachia. Appalachians are taking back Appalachia and this image is a tool for that change.”
“The True Cost of Coal” is only the latest work in the Beehive’s repertoire of graphics campaigns. The Beehive hums with activity, tackling issues as diverse as biotechnology, corporate globalization, food and agriculture, and colonialism. The group’s mission is to “cross-pollinate the grassroots” by creating images that educate the public and deconstruct complex geopolitical issues. Their body of work is distributed as “anti-copyright;” individuals and organizations are encouraged to reproduce the graphics for non-profit use as a means of circulating information and awareness.
If you go to the Common Ground Fair held each fall in Maine you may have seen the Beehive with their giant graphic works. The Beehive is an all-volunteer, art-activist collective based just up the road in Machias that creates engaging graphic art as an organizing tool for social change. For more information about their work, check out their website, www.beehivecollective.org. This “True Cost of Coal” program is sponsored by the Peace and Social Action Committee of the UU Church of Ellsworth as a part of their community outreach and education work. The public is invited to attend. For more information, phone 667-5863.