There's been a quiet protest happening in the trees of Appalachia. Now, it's catching on.

When Abigail peeks out from her perch — a wooden platform dangling high in a tree on a mountain ridge in West Virginia — she sees a nearly picture-perfect landscape.

She points out roaming farm animals and watches cars drive the few country roads that border the Jefferson National Forest. "The sunsets are incredible," Abigail describes. "And it’s pretty peaceful when the winds aren’t too strong."

The view from Abigail's tree platform. Photo courtesy of Appalachians Against Pipelines.


‌The 22-year-old Virginian (who asked us not to disclose her last name because of the risk involved in her protest) has called this sweeping landscape around Peters Mountain — and this one tree — home since she and others climbed up its branches on a mission on Feb. 26, 2018.

She chose the tree she’s in for a reason: It sits right where the Mountain Valley Pipeline is slated to carry natural gas through the fragile limestone terrain beneath its roots.

The construction of this pipeline would mean the destruction of this landscape, and Abigail is determined to stall that as long as possible.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline was first proposed in 2014 and has been met with community resistance every step of the way.

The route moves from north of Clarksburg, West Virginia, down to just southeast of Roanoke, Virginia — where it's been proposed it will continue another 70 miles south into North Carolina. The 42-inch-diameter pipeline will carry fracked natural gas, and residents like Becky Crabtree — who lives along the route and whose sheep Abigail can see from her tree — fear for their health, communities, and land.

Pipeline route map created by Upworthy.

"We can’t find record of a pipeline of this size ever being built on such a steep grade," Crabtree says. "There are so many questions we have, and no one is answering any of them for us."

Crabtree's property at the base of Peters Mountain is intersected by the pipeline, and her concerns about it are endless. She worries about sinkholes, about the quality of water reservoirs in the area, and about the construction traffic planned on her little one-lane road. She worries about the fence around her sheep field that she’ll have to pay to rebuild once MVP widens that road for their use. She worries about the effect the pipeline will have on the Appalachian Trail, which it will cross under just a couple hundred feet from Abigail’s tree.

The ridge of Peters Mountain from above Abigail's tree. Photo courtesy of FightingFox Photography.

Armed with many of the same concerns as Crabtree, over 400 landowners along the pipeline’s route refused to grant MVP easements on their property. These landowners were sued by MVP in 2017 for access to the land; eventually, a federal court will grant the private company access by condemning each person’s land through eminent domain, claiming that the pipeline serves a public good.

Upworthy reached out to MVP for a comment, but has not heard back.

Just a few dozen miles from Abigail, a 60-year-old woman nicknamed "Red" has also taken to the trees to stop pipeline construction on her family’s Virginia land.

"When I saw the tree sits on Peters Mountain," Red Terry says, "I knew what we had to do." Her husband’s family has lived on the Roanoke County land for generations, preserving the streams, wetlands, and an historic orchard that the pipeline will run right through.

"Everyone wants MVP’s money," she quips. "But there are some things in life worth a hell of a lot more than money."

Red's tree-sit, like Abigail's, has been surrounded by tree-felling in recent weeks. But the presence of the tree-sitters — along with dozens of supporters on the ground — has prevented MVP from cutting many trees in the pipeline's path. Although the community supporting these protests is vast, the threat of legal consequences has kept many, like Abigail, from disclosing personal information.

A protester blocks a MVP access road in Virginia. Photo courtesy of FightingFox Photography.

As construction ramps up, Red and Abigail aren’t the only ones taking direct action.

In Giles County, Virginia, a blockade was erected by pipeline opponents on an MVP access road. A single protester has been perched atop a 50-foot log placed vertically in the road for three weeks and counting, effectively halting construction of both the access road and the pipeline. She has not come down once, despite the continued presence of law enforcement preventing supporters from replenishing her supply of food and water. The banner hanging with her aptly reads: "The fire is catching: No pipelines."

Back in West Virginia, Crabtree says she was "jumping up and down delighted" to learn about the folks who climbed into the trees on Peters Mountain.

"We hadn’t noticed them until we read about them," she says. "But the more people that learn about them, the more admiration there is in the community. The more sense there is that we support people that ‘lay it down’ for our environment. That takes courage and wherewithal. It takes some extra teeth."

Photo courtesy of Appalachians Against Pipelines.

Local supporters have been so grateful for the tree-sitters that just a couple weeks ago, they held a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in support.

That evening, dozens of folks gathered in a church basement to eat, talk with friends and neighbors, and contribute to the cause on Peters Mountain. Crabtree’s granddaughters ran a table complete with markers and construction paper where well-wishers could write thank-you notes to be delivered up the ridge.

Up in her oak tree, Abigail recounts tales of the past three years, which she has spent opposing this pipeline.

“It got to the point where we had tried all these options to fight this,” she reports. “We talked to our representatives. We tried running our own candidates. We wrote letters to the editor. We had people sign petitions. Didn’t work, didn’t work, didn’t work. This is the only thing I feel like I have left.”

Sun is out and our batteries are happy. Hope you all are getting some ☀ too!bit.ly/supportmvpresistance

Posted by Appalachians Against Pipelines on Sunday, March 18, 2018

This fight comes at a time of widespread and increasing resistance to pipelines and other destructive fossil fuel projects around the country and the world.

Just east of the MVP route, folks are fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that — among a multitude of other issues — has a compressor station planned for Union Hill, Virginia, a community built by the descendants of freed slaves.

Down in Louisiana, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline is scheduled to cross 700 bodies of water, including a reservoir that supplies drinking water to the United Houma Nation and 300,000 Louisiana residents. This is the tail end of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which thousands protested last year at Standing Rock.

The list goes on: Mariner East 2, Rover, Line 3, Trans Mountain. But so do the stories of people rising up in the face of this ongoing destruction of land and communities.

"I don’t have a lot to lose being in this tree," Abigail shares, as she settles into her sleeping bag for another night on the mountain. "But as a young person and person from this region, I do have a lot to lose with this pipeline."

Peters Mountain treesit in path of Mountain Valley Pipeline - with drone footage

Check out this drone footage of the tree sit! There's also footage here of trees being felled in the snowstorm on Monday right up to the base of the sit.Currently, the only thing physically standing in the way of pipeline construction is the treesit on Peters Mountain. People in trees are doing what our "representatives" and "regulators" refuse to do — they're protecting land, water, and communities of Appalachia from corporations that believe their money gives them the right to pillage this land and pollute our water.Please donate to support pipeline resistance in Appalachia: bit.ly/SupportMVPResistance

Posted by Appalachians Against Pipelines on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

For updates from resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, follow Appalachians Against Pipelines and Farmlands Fighting Pipelines on Facebook. To learn about some of the other pipeline fights mentioned here, follow No Bayou Bridge, Makwa Initiative, and Camp White Pine.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

The battle between millennials and older generations isn't exactly a generational war—it's more a case of mistaken generational identity. A decade ago, whining about millennials being young adults unprepared to make their way in the world at least made sense mathematically. But when people bag on millennials now they end up looking rather foolish.

A marketing researcher with a doctorate in social psychology wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune titled "Post-pandemic, some millennials finally decide to start #adulting." And when the Tribune shared it to Twitter, their since-deleted tweet read, "Writer Jennifer Rosner predicts COVID-10 lockdowns will force easy-breezy millennials to grow up."

Hoo boy.

Interestingly, the writer of the op-ed is a millennial herself, but she repeats generalizations about her entire generation that seem like they mainly apply to her own social circle. Read it yourself to decide, but regardless, the tweet of the op-ed itself set off a firestorm of responses from millennials who are tired of being painted as irresponsible young people who don't know how to "adult" instead of what they actually are.

Keep Reading Show less
True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.