Sept/Oct 2014 Newsletter:

Sept. 3-16 in Berea: Lectures and Exhibit on South American Mining

Environmental impact of mining

Environmental impact of the El Chocó mining project; photography by Steve Cagan

By Michael Melampy, NEOSC Rainforest Committee Chairperson

The NEO Sierra Club Rainforest Committee is co-sponsoring two lectures on the environmental and social impacts of mining in the countries of Colombia and Ecuador. The Colombia lecture is in conjunction with an exhibit of photographs and drawings done by two local artists, Steve Cagan and Mary Kelsey. Cagan and Kelsey have been working with the Catholic Church in Colombia to document the impacts of gold mining in the Pacific coastal province of El Chocó. Their exhibit is entitled, “Mechanized Gold Mining vs. Rainforest Cultures in El Chocó, Colombia.” EL Chocó is a remote, rainforest region populated by Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities. Due to increases in the price of gold, mining companies are turning what was once an artisanal, small-scale industry into a large-scale, heavily mechanized industry that has major impacts on the environment.

Cagan and Kelsey’s photographs and drawings mirror the environmental impacts and can be viewed from 8 AM until 7 PM starting Wednesday, September 3 through Tuesday, September 16 in the Center for Innovation and Growth (CIG) at Baldwin Wallace College, Berea, Ohio. Please park in the visitor parking spaces along the east side of the CIG. The “Meet the Artists” lecture about the exhibit will occur on Thursday, September 4 at noon in the atrium of the CIG. Parking for the event is available in the visitors and student lots adjacent the building. The Rainforest Committee thanks the Center for Innovation and Growth for it co-sponsorship of the exhibit and lecture.

The second lecture will deal with the impact of copper mining on the Intag region of northern Ecuador. Intag is a region of small farms in which major tracts of biologically diverse cloud forest can be found. Since the early 1990s, community activists in Intag have been fighting against the establishment of large, open-pit copper mines that have the potential to do massive harm to surrounding forests, farmland, and streams. Dr. Glen Kuecker, professor of history at DePauw University and co-founder of the Intag Solidarity Network, will provide us with an insider’s view of the current struggle that pits Intag communities against the political and economic agenda of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa. The title of his presentation is, “Fighting for the Future: Local, National, and Global Perspectives on Intag’s Anti-Mining Struggle in Ecuador.”

Dr. Kuecker has longstanding research interests in Latin American and is co-editor of Latin American Social Movements in the Twenty-first Century: Resistance, Power, and Democracy. His lecture will occur at 7 PM on Monday, September 15 in the Surrarrer Auditorium, Telfer Hall, Baldwin Wallace University. The Rainforest Committee thanks the Baldwin Wallace Dept. of Biology and Geology for its co-sponsorship of the lecture.

Both the lectures and the exhibit are free and open to the public. If you have questions about the events, contact Michael Melampy at or 440-826-2263.

Summary of Dates and Times

  • Cagan-Kelsey Exhibit – Sept. 3-16, 8AM – 7PM, BW Center for Innovation and Growth
  • Cagan-Kelsey Lecture – Sept. 4, noon, BW Center for Innovation and Growth
  • Kuecker Lecture – Sept. 15, 7 PM, Surrarrer Auditorium, Telfer Hall, BW