In Lost Mountain, Erik Reece tells a story of Eden lost. It's the story of Inez, Kentucky, a place that was literally called "Eden," but was later renamed "Inez" due to some mail routing problems.
As Reece points out, the important piece here is that the founders of Inez-formerly-known-as-Eden were inspired by its beauty, enough to name it after the idyllic, biblical Eden. Prior to this observation, he explained that Appalachia's forests are almost identical to southern China's. "Two-thirds of all the wild orchids in Appalachia are cousins to those in China," he says. Likewise, the two ecosystems share tulip poplars, mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, ginseng and ferns.
Today, the U.S. cousin is in demise in places like Inez. Mountains have been sheared off. Streams are dirty. In October of 2000, a sludge river came rolling down the hills like lava, burying gardens, destroying bridges. The disaster was thirty times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster but, Reece notes, the New York Times "didn't print one word about it" for months.
One resident concluded, "We're just not quite as cute as those otters."
I'm not sure why the Times didn't step right in and say something. I know that until I met Blue Mountain Mama, I didn't realize that Appalachia was being trespassed.
Some people blame the greed of coal companies, but I think it must reach further than that. We're in this together, I should think. Now the question is, who is "we"? And how do we get out?