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This gas company thinks no one is paying attention to what they're doing, but they're wrong.

"What's happening in West Virginia is a human rights violation."

This gas company thinks no one is paying attention to what they're doing, but they're wrong.

"What is happening in West Virginia is a human rights issue," Keely Kernan says.

That's why she's traveling around West Virginia, talking to people on their way out. People like Myra Bonhage-Hale, a grandma and farmer who just wants to be respected and allowed to continue the life she loves. She thought she'd pass her farm to her son. Now she's leaving it behind.

"Ultimately, I decided to make this film to help share the stories of residents who live here at ground zero of today's energy and to help promote a very important conversation about what type of future we want to have as citizens," Keely says. Keely's feature-length documentary, "In the Hills and Hollows," chronicles the stories of people whose rights to "health, water, security, property values, and quality of life are being compromised."


It's high time that people see where their electricity comes from, so Keely traveled around the state with her camera, interviewing landowners who are deciding to leave or fighting to stay. Image courtesy of "In the Hills and Hollows."

All over West Virginia, people like Myra who thought they'd be there forever are packing up and selling out.

These are people whose families have lived there since the state was just a backwater section of Virginia — people who "farmed out" in the 1970s and thought they'd die there. But lots of them can't stay. If people have a choice, many of them are choosing to leave.

Image of hydraulic fracturing operation in the hills of West Virginia from the trailer for " In the Hills and Hollows."

They are leaving because of their new neighbors: massive drilling rigs, water trucks, chemical spills, and air pollution.

"What makes this story unique is that in many ways this is a repeat of history. We have seen the legacy of the boom-and-bust coal industry, the poisoning of our waterways, and wealth and resources leaving the state," Keely says.

Image of the pond on the farm Autumn shares with her husband, Dan, from the trailer for " In the Hills and Hollows."

Now she's ready to launch the stories she's collected as a feature film.

Because it's not just a West Virginia thing, Keely says. "The stories happening here are happening throughout the country." And she's right. People in Colorado and Pennsylvania are watching in horror as their landscapes are attacked.

How can you help? She's put together a Kickstarter to fund the final production for the film. Keely wants you to meet these folks and put yourselves in their shoes.

Image from " In the Hills and Hollows."

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
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While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

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This article originally appeared on 06.16.15


A lot of parents are tired of being told how technology is screwing up their kids.

Moms and dads of the digital age are well aware of the growing competition for their children's attention, and they're bombarded at each turn of the page or click of the mouse with both cutting-edge ideas and newfound worries for raising great kids.

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