Beehive Design Collective illustrates what it says is the true cost of mountain top removal coal mining

BOULDER –- Nearly 50 percent of the electricity used in the United States comes from burning coal. In China, coal supplies 71 percent of the total energy consumption. But some wonder if we know the full picture of how that coal is extracted from the ground and brought to the power plant.

Last year, the Beehive Design Collective produced its latest graphic to offer an depth view of mountain top removal coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains.

The Hive describes the work as, “an interactive visual tour between Mountain Top removal mining, climate change, and the struggle for justice in Appalachia and throughout the world…”

To create the enormous tapestry of woven metaphors personified primarily by forest critters, the Beehive spent years having conversations with community organizers, activists and people whose lives have been impacted by mountain top removal coal mining (MTR). After having countless conversations and listening to hundreds of stories, the researchers connected with a team of ten artists to collaboratively produce a dense graphic that weaves a spiral story of the history, the present situation and the resistance and recovery efforts together in a fascinating image.

For the last ten years, Beehive volunteers have worked directly with community activist groups throughout the country to actively resist environmental destruction and to promote community restoration.

While the Beehive is comprised of around 10 full-time volunteers based in Maine, the collective is involved in many environmental and social justice struggles across North and South America.

On the Beehive site, their official mission is “to cross-pollinate the grassroots, by creating collaborative, anti-copyright images that can be used as educational and organizing tools.”

At CU last week, Emma B. – the “bees” prefer to remain anonymous to stress the collaborative nature of their project – provided an explanation of the metaphors and stories represented in their latest work.

“We are trying to address complicated issues through accessible images,” said Emma. “Anyone can read an image.”

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