Monday, September 23, 2013

I didn't know what coal ash was until I met Rhiannon Fionn a few years ago. That's part of the problem, and she's part of the solution. Rhiannon, or Rhi as many call her, is an independent journalist who lived in Charlotte for several years before relocating to Seattle, and who has spent years reporting on the environmental issues and health problems being caused by coal ash. Now, she and her team are seeking your help as they raise funds to complete a documentary they've been traveling the country to film as part of their "Coal Ash Chronicles" project.

Coal ash is formed after coal is burned to generate electricity, which is a process done by many utility and energy companies. Coal ash is said to be this country's second-largest, mostly unregulated waste stream, and the materials contain heavy metals and radioactive elements, which often end up in the air, rivers, and lakes.

Credit: Coal Ash Chronicles

Rhi has been writing about this problem and doing investigative reporting on it for years. Locally, you may have seen her stories on coal ash in Creative Loafing, as well as an award-winning article she wrote for Charlotte magazine.

After traveling with a group to Washington D.C. to educate Congressional representatives about coal ash and how it's affecting communities, Rhi created Coal Ash Chronicles. Now, her team, which consists of about 20 contributors and volunteers, including other Charlotte-based journalists, photographers, videographers, and creative types like Desiree Kane and Kevin Beaty, as well as others from around the country.

They've recently launched an Indiegogo campaign, with the goal of raising $50,000 to complete their documentary. Watch the seven-and-a-half-minute video below, which shows people telling compassionate stories of how coal ash has affected their lives.

Rhi has put more than 60,000 miles on her car as she's traveled the country documenting these stories. She's stopping in Charlotte this week to host an event about the documentary (details below).

Support Coal Ash Chronicles
Meet the Coal Ash Chronicles Crew
Thursday, September 26
Come out and meet Rhiannon Fionn and several members of the film crew, and learn more about the documentary and the impact of coal ash. Cupcrazed Cupcake Bar is supplying tasty cupcakes, and there'll be music and a cash bar. 6 p.m. Free. Dilworth Billiards, 300 E. Tremont Ave.,


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