When controversial topics arise, the students of OneStone and their teachers, called coaches, don't get scared away; instead, they run toward it head on, asking hard questions and looking for answers in a variety of places. Humanities and science coach Allison Fowle, and art coach Teal Gardner, learned about the possibility that the stibnite mine in west-central Idaho would be reopened, so they packed up their backpacks, grabbed their tents, and with approximately 15 of their students, headed up to the site to see it for themselves. The Yellow Pine stibnite mine is an abandoned open-pit mine that the mining company Midas Gold has proposed to redevelop.
The students and their coaches spent two nights camping along the Salmon River and were guided by a Midas Gold representative, who gave them tours and information, but through the process, the students interviewed other stakeholders to gain a wider perspective. They chatted with representatives of other organizations and people affected in some way by the mine, including the Idaho Conservation League and the Nez Perce tribe. The result was a thorough education on a topic that affects Idahoans directly. Though some students admitted that they participated in the project because they "just wanted to go camping," not one student walked away unmoved by the experience; learning what it means to be engaged in where they live.
The students arrived at their own conclusions about the topic, and the outcome of this hands-on experience and research led to What's Mine is Ours, an exhibition that will be on display at Ming Studios Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21 and 22, from 5-8 p.m. It's cross-disciplinary and explores many of their questions and concerns about Midas Gold's proposal to reopen the stibnite mine. Each student who contributed a piece to the show took their own approach, and the media they used include podcasts, paintings and more.
"It was an opportunity for me to understand a topic that is local and will affect my community," said Kaleb Churchwell, a OneStone student who made paintings for the show. She focused on the idea that mining is "taking the heart out of the mountain," and enjoyed learning about the natural, geological and community impacts of a mine.
Perhaps even more empowering is that the students don't just share what they learned with their peers or with their teachers—they get to share it with the community in a real art gallery setting.
"We got to see the real place that we learned about in school," said Simone Wylie, who created photographic etchings. She said the experience was "mind blowing," and felt that she is now well-rounded on the subject.
"Our lands are worth fighting for," she said, and hopes that viewers of the show can walk away with that same message.