No Guarantee...But I Think I'm Going Through With It

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Over the past few weeks, I have done some researching and I have tried to determine if I should continue with what I have chosen for my Capstone project. As Dr. Atherton commented when first discussing this project with me, what I have chosen to do is for some their lifetime profession. I think the biggest factor I took into consideration was that I could do all this research, interviewing, visiting to mine drainage/ mine areas, and have the whole project end with no accomplishment other than I learned a lot about mine drainage. I'm hoping to make some type of positive impact on my home community with this project, but there is the chance that it may not happen because either it is not financially possible/beneficial, or some other group/organization already has a plan on the way that will include the areas around my home, making my project irrelevant.

I've decided that even though my project has the potential to not go as planned (or even close), there could still be some sort of benefit I could get out of it. Even if it is just writing articles on the research I am doing and possible organizing some local clean up events. I'm still nervous about going through with it, but I guess it's worth a try.

Originally, I picked this project because I live in a mining area that has seen several problems caused from the mines. After working on a road crew for the past few years, I have seen firsthand some of the damage done from the abandoned mines, from orange rivers to houses caving in on hillsides from the collapsing abandoned mine underneath.

Over the next few days, to create a sort of "base" for anyone reading my blog (which I am going to use as a sort of journal for this project), I am going to start including links and information for mine drainage. I want to include some basics, such as what acid mine drainage is and how you can test water sources for it. I also am going to include background information for my home area, such as the water sources that have been damaged by mine drainage, the history of mining in my area, and any clean up systems that exist. I have managed to collect several newspaper articles on recent coverage on mine drainage in the area from the past year. I plan on using information from these articles as a way to find some starting points for some interviews and for some visits to mining areas.

Also, even though I live in Somerset County, I plan on researching and visiting areas in Cambria County as well. I live almost on the line between the two, so several of the water sources around my house are also a part of Cambria.

Finally, I am also going to start sharing some information about the mine drainage cleaning systems in Westmoreland County, with a focus on the systems at St. Vincent. Dr. Atherton said his wife is active in the research and some of the environmental studies at St. Vincent, so hopefully I can contact her soon and possibly set up some visitation dates.

I believe this project has a lot of potential in both positive in negative extremes: either I can really make an impact on my community or it may be a total flop. I have a feeling that there is a little chance for it falling in between. I guess I could have picked a project that could guarantee a safer and probably more successful outcome, but I feel that this project is really forcing me out of my comfort zone and to try to do something that isn't going to be a guaranteed success.  

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