Heroes

I turned off the TV when they showed the river. 1 year later, I've tuned back in, and it's gorgeous.

The chemical spill that prevented hundreds of thousands of people from drinking, bathing in, or cooking with their tap water put West Virginia on the national news. At the time, everyone called it a crisis. Now, the community sees it as a turning point.

I turned off the TV when they showed the river. 1 year later, I've tuned back in, and it's gorgeous.

You might remember seeing this on the evening news on Jan. 9, 2014.

A chemical spill in the Elk River poisoned the water for the city of Charleston and many surrounding communities.


West Virginia has long had an anti-regulation culture. This kind of disaster is what comes from allowing chemical industries to self-regulate. They aren't super good at it.

If this is where the story ended, it would be a downer and a half.

Luckily, there's more to it.

Thousands of people, from all walks of life — including those who used to oppose environmental regulation — suddenly couldn't shower, cook, or wash their dishes. And they got angry.


They held vigils. They joined long-time environmentalists. They demanded some action.

Because they learned that we all live downstream.

And they got results.

The bill that went to the legislature, with their recommendations, passed in both chambers unanimously. The governor signed it.

It probably didn't hurt that the legislators couldn't get a bath either.

It started as a crisis, but it brought the community together. It taught them about their power when they worked as a group.

Because of this chemical spill, people who used to see each other as opponents now see each other as collaborators.

The fight isn't over yet.

There's a bill in the West Virginia legislature that would roll back a lot of those positive actions. The struggle never ends, but at least now there are thousands of concerned, educated citizens paying attention.

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Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

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Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
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Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

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