The thread that ties these interviews together and reaches beyond each person’s expertise is one of reflection on the Wyoming Valley’s Anthracite heritage. The interviews in this video are from the early days of the project when we were first learning about the the Huber: Robert Wolensky — sociology professor, Andrew Hart — architect, Bill Best — engineer and president of the Huber Breaker Preservation Society, Sue Hand — artist, John Kish — former Ashley barber and Phil Voystock — former miner. Their thoughts drove us deeper into exploration and the realization that this story, one that resonates not just in coal towns, is told best by creating a film and it’s what fed the curiosity and started our crew on a journey to explore communities that have faced industrial decline and their hope for a better future.
Latest news is our project has evolved and we have a Title! We thank John Kish, former Ashley town barber, for the quote: “When I sit in my living room and look out the windows, I see Beyond The Breaker.” John was one of our first interviews back in summer of 2012 the title was hiding in plain sight.
The summer exited seamlessly into the fall and it’s been a busy few months collaborating, exploring and figuring else what else the breaker will tell us and guessing where this story will end. That process will be unfolding and a lot more information will follow, some on this site and the rest on film’s site – which now has a name! Until then, here are two takes on experiences while visiting the breaker.
From Erica’s piece:
“At the end of our exploration of the crumbling Huber Breaker, the filmmakers asked me to reflect on its future. I found myself saying that while I’m generally sentimental, my thinking about the preservation of these spaces is more pragmatic. I said something about how I feel they are best preserved in art and historiography, rather than in actuality…that it would be too costly to restore…they are public safety hazards…yadda yadda yadda.”
“The work people did in the Breaker could be dangerous; it could be soul-crushing, but it was also a source of pride, for families, for the community and for a culture. That one suffers while toiling in thankless labor that most people will ultimately never know about is, in itself, a kind of noble sacrifice. That it takes one’s life, or many years that could have been, or so much that could have been otherwise, only makes the giving more grave and worthy.”
Read the full posts below:
The Haunting, Illuminating Huber Breaker, by Joseph Robertson.
Color palettes are nothing new especially in the age of Photoshop and web design. Though I don’t know if gray, green and a some varied shades of tan/brown would be a designer’s first choice when working on a corporate website or annual report. But these colors are ones I’ve grown accustom to when I arm chair surf various web-based maps for new locations to photograph/film. These patches, ones that lack life, illustrate What’s Left Behind.
These swatches of gray cut a path in the surrounding fields, mountains and farmland and show how much waste still remains from the time the coal giants cut, ran and left behind scars across Pennsylvania. They clearly give perspective regarding the mission of organizations like EPCAMR and The Center for Coalfield Justice as they provide aid in land recovery from wasteful and irresponsible practices that continue today.
Our plan is to capture (on a micro budget) the extent of bleakness that’s found within or just outside of a long list of small towns in Northeastern PA. These plans also have taken us into the booming trend of aerial remote control photography and video (which comes with its own learning curve, mainly learning how to NOT crash). Exploring the colorless terrain will be this summer’s challenge especially since it’s a rookie flying/piloting effort on our end.