I have been a big fan of the nonprofit SAMS, the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards for some time (see related posts below). Not just because they are one of the last standing organizations fighting hard against an empire of downright evil coal profiteers in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. But also because they have taken their battle to the Internet in ingenious ways.

Their website iLoveMountains.org has pioneered some reallly innovative used of social media including a blogger challenge, an online viral petition, a map that shows how you are connected to "dirty coal," a great multimedia library and more.

They just upped the Web 2.0 ante by adding an amazing Youtube integrated Google map of Appalachia. So you can actually pan through a map of Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee and click on videos specific to individual towns that have been affected by the practice of mountaintop removal. A Youtube pops up over the map and features concerned residents who have seen the devastation first hand.

Here's one from Ison Rock Ridge, VA:

The pop-up video widget also provides layers of additional information including written testimonials by residents of the area and a tracker that illustrates where the coal taken from that region ends up. You might be surprised. Even the Los Angeles DWP is tainted by the black stain of unethical coal extraction which, for just a few kWh's of energy, has lain waste to one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth.

All I can say to Benji Burrell and the good folks at App Voices.. "Wow" and "Thank you!"

Related Stories:

America's Most Endangered Mountains
A new YouTube integrated map lets Appalachian communities speak out on mountaintop coal mining.