The True Cost of Coal

September 26, 2012

Behive Design CollectiveOn Wednesday, October 3, Hampden Sydney College will host the Beehive Design Collective with their graphics campaign, "The True Cost of Coal," a visual exploration of mountaintop removal coal mining and resistance.

Two years in the making, "The True Cost of Coal" is an elaborate narrative illustration that explores the complex story of mountaintop coal mining and the broader impacts of coal in Appalachia and beyond.  The image is the culmination of an intensive and collaborative research process, as the Beehive methodology centers on first-hand story sharing. To create the poster, the Beehive interviewed hundreds of community members throughout the Appalachia region. "We feel it's extremely important to gather our information from as close to the source as possible," a Beehive illustrator says.

Visual metaphors are crafted and woven together in a patchwork of personal stories.  In their interactive picture-lectures, the Bees lead audiences through an engaging, larger-than-life banner version of the graphic, interweaving anecdotes, statistics, and history. The experience prompts discussion and understanding of contemporary struggles about energy and coal, while honoring the legacy of the Appalachian experience. 

"The True Cost of Coal" is only the latest work in the Beehive's repertoire of graphics campaigns. The Beehive has tackled issues as diverse as biotechnology, corporate globalization, food and agriculture, and colonialism. The group's mission is to create images that educate the public and deconstruct complex geopolitical issues.  Individuals and organizations are encouraged to reproduce the graphics for non-profit use as a means of circulating information and awareness.  For more information and to view the graphics visit or

Free and open to the public, this event is sponsored by Hampden-Sydney's Lectures & Programs Committee and the Rhetoric Department.  The presentation will begin at 7:30 PM in Winston Hall.