The Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) has announced that Vivian Stockman, executive director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in Huntington, West Virginia, has won the 2020 Women of Appalachia Project Appalachian Advocate Award.
The award is given yearly to a woman who has dedicated herself to enhancing the wellbeing of Appalachian culture, Appalachian women’s health, Appalachian families or Appalachian land issues, according to a news release.
“Since arriving in a small West Virginia community in the 1990s,” the release said, “Stockman has stood with often un-empowered communities against well-heeled industries, to fight for mountaintops, forests, water and air.”
According to nominator Susan Truxell Sauter, “Vivian Stockman serves as the person who links it all together – if it means filing a lawsuit on her own, or coaching women living in coal communities on how and where to speak about the health impacts of such industry whether at a county commission meeting or even at the United Nations. She jumps the synapse, providing names, education, and media support. She meets people on their own ground, repeatedly, making a personal connection – while amplifying their truth with emails, tweets, essays, op-eds, newsletter articles and award-winning photographs. “
Former OVEC Executive Director Janet Keating offers a powerful summary and example, according to the release: “Vivian… has developed long-term, trusting relationships with people in communities impacted by injustices of the coal industry. For example, she remains close to the Miller-Caudill family, whose ancestral land and home place was surrounded and threatened by mountain top removal. The coal company had gone to court forcing the family to sell their land. Fortunately, the West Virginia Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision. Vivian attended relevant hearings, communicated with family members and stood in solidarity with them… to this day, Vivian is invited to the Miller-Caudill annual family reunion.”
In the release, Kari Gunter-Seymour, executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project, added, “Women often go unsung as they go about their work with passion and purpose, knowing what they do is truly for the good of all. Vivian is a prime example of someone who goes well beyond punching a time clock. Her dedication to the land is remarkable and should be celebrated.”
The award will be presented at 6 p.m. March 28, in the Athena Cinema in Athens, second floor, at 6 p.m., during the annual WOA “Women Speak” performance. That event is a juried presentation of poetry, story and song, showcasing 20 spoken-word artists from seven states throughout Appalachia. (Because of the current coronavirus pandemic, check to make sure this event is still happening.)
Thanks to the sponsorship of the Ohio University Multicultural Center, the event is free to the public. A reception with beverages and hor d’oeuvres will take place immediately after the performance.