What happens when whip-smart 14-year-old Ashley Cook and her Aunt Ollie, both of Dog Town, North Carolina, decide to challenge a mining company that wants to blow up the mountain they live next to? Find out on Wednesday, March 20 at 12:00 p.m. in Knox County Public Library's lunchtime series, Books Sandwiched In, at the East Tennessee History Center, 601 South Gay Street. Author and activist Jay Erskine Leutze will discuss his own book, Stand Up That Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail.
Living alone in his wooded mountain retreat, Leutze gets a call from Ashley and her aunt, Ollie Cox, who say a mining company is intent on tearing down Belview Mountain, the towering peak above their house. Ashley and her family suspect the mining company is violating the law, and they want Leutze, a nonpracticing attorney, to stop the destruction of the mountain. Leutze, a devoted naturalist and fisherman, quickly decides to join their cause.
So begins the epic quest of the “Dog Town Bunch,” a battle that involves fiery public hearings, clandestine surveillance of the mine operator’s activities, ferocious pressure on public officials, and high-stakes legal brinksmanship in the North Carolina court system. Jay helps assemble a talented group of environmental lawyers to do battle with the well-funded attorneys protecting the mining company’s plan to dynamite Belview Mountain, which happens to sit next to the Appalachian Trail. As the mining company continues to level the forest and erect a gigantic rock-crushing plant on the site, Jay’s group searches frantically for a way to stop an act of environmental desecration that will destroy a fragile wild place and mar the Appalachian Trail forever.
Much more than the record of a legal battle, Stand Up That Mountain takes the reader to a remote corner of Appalachia, a region often stereotyped and little understood, even now in the twenty-first century. Leutze’s plaintiff group is eventually joined by several national conservation groups who see that Belview Mountain and the Appalachian Trail must be protected for future generations of Americans.
Jay Erskine Leutze was born in Virginia in 1964. He now lives in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Trained as an attorney, he has become a leading voice for state and federal conservation funding for investment in public lands. He is a Trustee for Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, one of the nation’s most established land trusts.
The series will continue on April 17, when Knoxville Attorney Wanda Sobieski discusses The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family by Madeleine Kunin. On May 15, Assistant Director of the H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy Nissa Dahlin-Brown will discuss The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch.
The public is invited to join the conversation. Bring your favorite sandwich or pick up something from a downtown restaurant. Copies of the books are available at the Library if you'd like to read one before the program.
For more information, please call Emily Ellis at 215-8723.