Herb E. Smith is a filmmaker from Appalshop in Letcher County.
"I have a number of reasons to be here. Not the least of which is a longstanding relationship throughout the state with those who have been involved in strip-mining issues. For example, in 1972, 39 years ago, I was right in this very area to ask the then governor to address the problems with strip mining. So when you've been involved with something for 40 years, it kind of gets to be a habit. (Laughs) It's something that you care about.
"It hasn't all been lost during those 40 years. But it is true that we are facing a very diffcult-to-win set of circumstances. We know it's election year, and that always changes the equation when you're asking for redress.
"So far so good this weekend. I think people come together partly because they know that there are real consequences out there. Real people getting hurt. Real streams getting polluted. Real mountains being destroyed. Real communities being pulled apart by these strong forces. So of course, if you care about those things--and most people do--then you try to look hard at what's going on look inside yourself at the same time and ask, 'What can I do?'
"Another aspect of a weekend like this is about friendship. Everyone who's been here I've admired for a number of years and worked with. Wendell (Berry) and I have been involved in a lot of things. When he calls, you answer. Once you get here, part of your role is to be a part of the storytelling and the exchange of ideas that is really about the joy of being together and learning and having a series of good conversations with people who care about the same kind of issues. That's the way that people get bound together. And there's a kind of laughter and joy--not just hard-nosed issue-serious debate. People are learning from each other about each other's experiences, and it's pleasurable. We're a united group."
To speak with Herbie, call 859-779-1594.