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Virginians opposing natural gas pipelines to join Poor People's march

Randi B. Hagi
Volunteers used paint to color in a design by artist Jan Burger. They'll be taking the signs to the Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly & Moral March on Washington and to the Polls on June 18.

A group of activists gathered in Charlottesville on Sunday to prepare for a march on Washington. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

[sounds of people chatting, fans, folk music]

Randi B. Hagi
Kay Ferguson is ARTivism Virginia's founder.

In a former warehouse-turned-studio space in Charlottesville, a handful of people sat painting in color on printed signs. An image of two hands clasping each other is surrounded by endangered animals and the words "We rise – not just for you and me – stop MVP." That's the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which the organization ARTivism Virginia has fought against since it was founded in 2017 by Kay Ferguson.

KAY FERGUSON: We're inviting everybody to come be with us on June 18th, and to meet us at 9 a.m. at 1st Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Randi B. Hagi
Joshua Vana is the director of ARTivism Virginia.

The Poor People's Campaign, a movement that seeks to overcome systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy, is holding a march and assembly in D.C. on the 18th. A few dozen ARTivism folks will be in the crowd –

JOSHUA VANA: …Bringing some of that good pipeline fighter coalition energy to the nation's capital.

Joshua Vana is the organization's director.

VANA: Our causes are intersectional, and the more we show up to support each other, the better chance we have at winning.

This is also a chance for ARTivism to thank Rev. Dr. William Barber, the Poor People's Campaign co-chair, for his support over the years, including when he came to Buckingham County to speak out against a compressor station that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline wanted to build in the historic, predominantly Black community of Union Hill. The Atlantic Coast pipeline project was canceled in 2020.

FERGUSON: If we get together and resist the old ploy of trying to divide the people at the bottom against each other, then we will create a "new, unsettling force."

As for the MVP, it's currently tied up in court with federal legal and permitting battles.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.