Sharon Hartzell

SharonSharon Hartzell is a sophomore at the College of William & Mary, where she is studying Chemistry and Environmental Science. Sharon is an active member of William & Mary’s Student Environmental Action Coalition, which is involved with a number of environmental initiatives on campus and in the wider community. She is also involved with chemistry research and is the secretary of Chemistry Club. Sharon has always had an interest in writing. She is a staff writer for the Dog Street Journal, a campus news magazine, and blogs for William & Mary’s Committee on Sustainability. She volunteers in a third-grade classroom at Matthew Whaley Elementary School, with the RealFood Williamsburg Community Co-Op, and with the Buddy Ball League, a baseball league for children with special needs.

Peeking into the Appalachia: Is the "Outsider Activist" a myth?

Summary: My article began with an alternative spring break to western Virginia, where I got a glimpse into the mountaintop removal resistance movement in Appalachia. This movement is strongly tied to the history and culture of a distinct region, and yet activists involved in the cause are drawn to the mountains from a variety of places. In my article, I was interested in exploring the dynamics between activists who were natives of the mountains, and those who had come from elsewhere to organize in the coalfields. How did the dynamics within this movement relate to other environmental justice movements? To develop my article, I spoke with members of a variety of organizations working against mountaintop removal, and drew on my own experiences as an “outsider activist.” My article explores the idea that while differences in background are significant in activist movements, it is difficult to consider anyone a true outsider. As environmental issues affect more and more areas of our country and our world, common goals will become much more important than differences in background.

Read Sharon's entire article here.