Brower Youth Awards

Ivan Stiefel

Mullica Hill, NJ

Ivan spearheaded the creation of an alternative spring break for university students to stand in solidarity with communities affected by coal industry abuses in Appalachia. In 2007, the West Virginia Mountain Justice Spring Break (MJSB) focused on securing a safe school for the children who attend Marshfork Elementary, which lies only 50 yards from a coal silo. Just beyond the silo is a coal processing plant, a leaking coal slurry impoundment, and mountaintop removal mines. During the Spring Break Program, the West Virginia Surface Mines appeal board released a decision that would allow for a second silo to be built right next to the school. The week culminated in a sit-in at the office of the governor of West Virginia, where Ivan was among those occupying the office, demanding that the governor build a safe new school for the children of Marshfork. The occupation ended in 13 arrests but the governor made no commitments. In March 2008, the Mountain Justice Spring Break traveled to Wise County, Virginia, and Meigs County, Ohio in protest of further coal projects and coal-fired power plants. Ivan created the Virginia Spring Break’s schedule. In Ohio, he coordinated community service projects and two “listening projects” to identify community concerns, while acting as lead negotiator with the CEO of an electric utilities company. MJSB “has furthered the movement for environmental justice, climate justice and a just transition away from coal,” Ivan said.

Profile Film

Award Acceptance Speech