European Coal Map (video)

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Poverty in Appalachia coal mining region

Appalachia (/ˌæpəˈlætʃə/ or /ˈæpəˈleɪtʃə/) is a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York to northern Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.[1] While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in Alabama, the cultural region of Appalachia typically refers only to the central and southern portions of the range. As of the 2010 census, the region was home to approximately 25 million people, containing the major cities of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Knoxville, Tennessee; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; and Asheville, North Carolina.

Since its recognition as a distinctive region in the late 19th century, Appalachia has been a source of enduring myths and distortions regarding the isolation, temperament, and behavior of its inhabitants. Early 20th century writers often engaged in yellow journalism focused on sensationalistic aspects of the region’s culture, such as moonshining and clan feuding, and often portrayed the region’s inhabitants as uneducated and prone to impulsive acts of violence. Sociological studies in the 1960s and 1970s helped to re-examine and dispel these stereotypes.

While endowed with abundant natural resources, Appalachia has long struggled and been associated with poverty. In the early 20th century, large-scale logging and coal mining firms brought wage-paying jobs and modern amenities to Appalachia, but by the 1960s the region had failed to capitalize on any long-term benefits from these two industries. Beginning in the 1930s, the federal government sought to alleviate poverty in the Appalachian region with a series of New Deal initiatives, such as the construction of dams to provide cheap electricity and the implementation of better farming practices. On March 9, 1965, the Appalachian Regional Commission was created to further alleviate poverty in the region, mainly by diversifying the region’s economy and helping to provide better health care and educational opportunities to the region’s inhabitants. By 1990, Appalachia had largely joined the economic mainstream, but still lagged behind the rest of the nation in most economic indicators.

Seenkompass Leipzig: a macro conversion from open-pit mines to lakes

A total of 42 new lakes will be created by flooding closed open-pit mines and will create a seascape with about 174 km² water surface, especially in the south of Leipzig. The landscape change will have a very significant socieconomic impact on the region. Major economic and leisure development, as well as improvement of quality of life is expected. This macro project is part of the structural change in the region around Leipzig and Halle. (See the animated infography following the pin)

See bellow the original description in Germany: Die Bergbaufolgelandschaft des mitteldeutschen Braunkohlereviers ist mit ca. 500 km² wiedernutzbar zu machender Fläche die drittgrößte Deutschlands. Mit der Rekultivierung der stillgelegten Tagebaue vollzieht sich hier seit 1990 ein eindrucksvoller Wandel hin zu einer Seenlandschaft mit vielfältigen Erholungsmöglichkeiten. Gewinnen Sie einen Überblick über die Entwicklung der Seenlandschaft, indem Sie Zeitsprünge des Flutungsstandes auswählen Erkunden Sie Details zu einzelnen Gewässern, indem Sie auf einen See in der Karte klicken oder in das Textfeld eingeben.

“Local Social perception of a mining artificial lake in Spain” my abstract for the next European Sociological Association conference in Prague

The construction of a large scale power plant in the town of As Pontes in the late seventies and the associated influx of new workers would definitely change a place that by that time was not far from many others villages that form the most genuine rural Galicia. The closure of the adjacent opencast coalmine in recent years and its conversion into an artificial lake finally defined its particular idiosyncrasies up to date. By mean a mixed methods analysis (in-depth interviews, focus group and observation), this paper aims to study the social perception of the new artificial lake among locals, while also looking at the more theoretical questions about interdependencies between natural, social and built environment. Specifically, this paper is an opportunity to build upon the legacy of the American sociologist William Freudenburg and his concept of Opportunity-threat. Results accounts for the existence of two divergent social constructions that could be associated to an old social category and identity strategies among neighbours: long term residents and newcomers. First and most dominant, a perception of the lake as both a new symbol of the town due to its grandiosity and as an opportunity for an industrial development associated to water that could bring a new boom. On the other hand, a more sceptical perception among long term residents who not only distrust about the security of the lake itself but also see a menace to the social centrality of other historical symbols of the town, as the river or the town square.

See this video to know closely the reconversion process from mine to lake in As Pontes. In Spanish, though.