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