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Kentucky poet, farmer and environmental activist Wendell Berry will be headline speaker for the May 20 Louisville Loves Mountains street party/fundraiser to benefit the organization fighting mountain top removal.

Fresh from a four-day February sit-in at Gov. Steve Beshear’s offices protesting mountain top removal, Berry is part of the Louisville Loves Mountains lineup that includes live music and food, said Louisville businessman Mike Mays, one of the block party organizers.

The party is scheduled  to run from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the block of Longest Avenue running from Bardstown Road to Cherokee Road.

The 2011 Louisville Loves Mountains festival will be about “local bands, local beers, local writers and local pizza,” said Mays, co-owner of Heine Brothers’ Coffee shops.

“We’re going to raise a little money, but this is about raising awareness” for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth,” he said.

KFTC is a 30-year-old grass-roots social justice organization that as part of its mission is fighting to ban mountain top removal mining, a mining technique that takes off entire tops of mountains to get to underlying coal seams. Berry and other opponents say the technique not only disfigures the terrain, runoff from the process pollutes streams and the surrounding land.

The street party block of the Highlands Neighborhood has a Heine Brothers location and an adjoining Carmichael’s Bookstore at 1295 Bardstown Rd., and both businesses are event sponsors along with Boombozz Gourmet Pizza, Bluegrass Brewing Co. and New Albanian Brewing Co.

Bands and speakers are donating their time, and vendors have pledged between 25 percent and 50 percent of their sales for the night, Mays said.

Berry is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. The activist author has been “an outspoken opponent of mountain-top removal,” Mays said. “He wants to continue to keep the pressure on.” Other speakers include Sally Campbell, author of “Saving Kentucky.”

Wendell Berry at the Frankfort sit-in

Live entertainment includes the Reel World String Band and the River City Drum Corps, which Mays describes as “mindblowing!” (See video.)

Block party attendees will be asked to sign a letter to the governor asking that mountain top removal be stopped, Mays said. “Not coal mining. Only coal mining by mountain top removal,” he said.

KFTC also will have a membership sign-up table, Mays said.

This will be the third Louisville Loves Mountains fundraiser, which started with poetry reading in 2009 at the Gardiner Lane Heine Brothers location, he said: “That poetry reading was standing room only.”

Last year’s scheduled block party on Longest was rained out.

This year, the block party rain plan is to move the event to The Money Wrench restaurant and bar at 1025 Barrett Ave.

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Terry Boyd
Terry Boyd has seven years experience as a business/finance journalist, and eight years a military reporter with European Stars and Stripes. As a banking and finance reporter at Business First, Boyd dealt directly with the most influential executives and financiers in Louisville.

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