Having been inspired by this year’s fantastic regional conference (and under David Gespass threat of expulsion from the Guild if we did not do so) the West Virginia and West Virginia University College of Law Student Chapters have agreed to host the 2002 Southern Regional Conference.

Since our return from Florida, I have discussed next year’s conference with other West Virginia Guild members who have, without exception, responded favorably. We are tentatively planning the conference for the last weekend in May 2002. Although this is later than this year’s conference, spring will be in full bloom in the "Mountain State" and it will provide conference participants an opportunity to see West Virginia at its finest.

While it is too early to specifically identify panel discussions, we would like to focus on the difficult and distinct challenges which the poor, working people, unions, minorities, women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, disabled individuals and the environment face in a rural, poor and for the most part, politically conservative state.

In addition, we are planning to organize a labor history tour guided by local historians through southern West "by god" Virginia. This would either occur Saturday or Sunday morning. We will visit the area where union miners took up arms against the state and the coal companies in what has been called the second largest armed insurrection on domestic soil. This is the land of "two Gun" Sid Hatfield, a local sheriff and union sympathizer, as well as Mother Jones who’s famous words "pray for the dead but fight like hell for the living" served as an inspiration to all individuals struggling against hazardous and oppressive working conditions in the coal mines. We will also visit "Hawk’s Nest" state park and the infamous Hawks Nest tunnel which resulted in one of the largest industrial disasters in U.S. history and which inspired the modern silicosis compensation systems throughout the country. There is also a remote possibility that we could arrange a tour of an underground, working coal mine.

We have set an ambitious goal of 125-150 people. While this number is high it is realistic and can be accomplished. Here is the plan. We need one person from each state to take responsibility for publicizing the conference and confirming the number of participants to attend. In addition, we need one person to take responsibility for doing the same for all student chapters in the region. Here are the people who are masochistic enough to have already volunteered. Dave has Alabama, Elizabeth takes North Carolina and Cathleen (I think) volunteered to take care of the students. I need volunteers from all other states. We will also contact the other regions and invite them to attend.

We encourage people to take a few vacation days and visit many of the different historic sites in West Virginia. Also, spring is prime season for trout fishing, hiking, camping, turkey hunting (my personal favorite) and white water rafting. Taking advantage of this opportunity to visit our state will truly make you appreciate why "Montani Semper Liberi" (Mountaineers Are Always Free).

Please call and volunteer, we need the help!.

In Solidarity,

Jason Huber for the W. Virginia-NLG Chapter