Vines cover a coal operation closed for two or three decades. But at the mines, who knows if the job would last two months, or two weeks? They find the toothless guy, the trailers with shotguns racked up on the wall and the yard strewn with diapers and beer cans, and they film some dude saying weird shit in a backcountry accent that needs subtitles to comprehend, they give it an ominous title like “A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains,” and they leave. “Windshield time,” Justice calls it. Story at a glance. “He says, this is uncomfortable, but it’s not that bad,” Hall recalls. But Rusty’s unease with Bloomberg turned into a gut-deep animus last year, when the self-confessed hillbilly—if you’re from this part of the world that’s a self-identifier, not an insult—sat down for his weekly, three-hour, Saturday morning news-reading session. 3. “That’s when we said,” Parrish recalls, “we’ve been working with tradespeople all our life.”. They also learned that they were not going to be paid. “So you don’t have to teach motivation.”, Just as much as the code, Hall says he had to teach an aptitude for screwing up. He acknowledged the economic setbacks and job insecurity that coal miners face these days, and gave them some advice: learn to code. Researchers advise that investing in industries based in the local area can ease the transition out of mining. professor and author of “The Job Training Charade” told Ohio Valley ReSource. “I definitely did not create a cool little zombie scene with a first-person character in Unity while I was waiting.”, “Last 24, I fixed the header,” he says. “I will if you will,” Justice said. Jim Ratliff and his twin brother watch his son play football. A former Coca-Cola bottling plant is the new home to BitSource. By the end of the first week, all 10 coders had built an HTML page — be it a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan or University of Kentucky basketball. He was right — the people in this room had won the lotto. The math was easy—he’d started college on an academic scholarship in the late 90’s, but when his wife got pregnant, he dropped out to start working. Retraining programs have received bipartisan support. And it turns out the assessment was incredibly adept at finding the miners who could be part of the club. Say what you will about the long-term environmental effects (Justice, for one, is very pro-coal) but the impact on the area’s one-source economy has been brutal. but no.”. America is changing fast! Appalachia’s newest startup founder might be fueled by endless reserves of renewable Rusty Justice energy. They filed into a glass-walled conference room along with a gang of other Kentucky entrepreneurs, to speak with the space’s 29-year-old co-founder Nick Such. That’s when he came across Bloomberg’s latest jab. This was just patronizing. Now that they graduated from training and had started building their first professional webpages, the $18-an-hour BitSource wage for junior coders still didn’t match mining. One new venture in Kentucky offers a solution: teaching coal miners how to code. As of 2016, there were only 50,000 coal miners in the United States, and yet they occupy so much of our political imagination and conversation around jobs, unions and climate change. This fall, working at BitSource, he hasn’t missed a game. Piles of coal fill a piece of land near the office. Inside, Awesome had all the visual shorthand of Silicon Valley: ping pong table, programmer books, entrepreneurs typing at rented desks. Well, a junior developer in Kentucky could make $60-$80,000 a year. News Joe Biden Coding Coal 2020 Election During a campaign event on Monday, Joe Biden suggested coal miners could simply learn to code to transition to "jobs of the future." Rusty and Lynn got the idea when they visited Awesome Inc, a Lexington tech incubator. has proposed moving the U.S. away from fossil fuels to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. “We need to do something.”, In the weeks that followed, they lined up the details. Let’s not be like that old mule. Shawn — the former reporter with a Colonel Sanders-esque beard — critiques FX’s Justified, which is set in nearby Harlan county. And Silicon Valley has shown that the digital economy doesn’t have to be created in the same place that it’s consumed. Proposals to retrain coal miners … Vocativ 5,570 views. Famous historical residents of Appalachia decorate a wall in the main workroom of BitSource. Appalachian Miners Are Learning to Code By . But they’re not nostalgic either. Here's how to clean it up. “I’ve missed a lot of my children growing up. It’s gotta be. “I’m trying to sound smart and sell tech,” he says. So, as Parrish dropped Rusty off at his house, “We said, huh, what do you think?’. You go home and your head is tired. “People are going to have to get laid off,” Andrew Cosgrove. At a rally yesterday, Joe Biden advised a crowd in a coal mining town to learn computer programming. While the coal mining industry has long supported many Appalachian communities, jobs in mines are rapidly disappearing, causing residents to lose work and leave their hometowns. If so, then, yes absolutely they should learn to code. Dev Bootcamp shuttering shows challenges of teaching coal miners to code. To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. Then, three days later, Parrish pulled up at his partner’s house. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images. Ratliff stares straight ahead. It makes me feel like a dinosaur, really, wandering around. An employment ad for BitSource . I wanted to make sure I’d exhausted every revenue source.” Still, he got a face-to-face interview. With some coal company stocks crashing 95 percent in value over the last five years, I would say it’s way, way worse. It can happen two hours from the nearest airport, in a place where building a new road requires sawing a mountain in half, by people who have different politics, accents and hobbies than the end-users. The cashiers at the family-run grocery store. The two had looked for a solution in several potential industries over the last two years: wind farms, fish farms, farm farms. Ratliff brings up his son’s high school football victory the night before. Justice segues into motivational mode. Sep 06, 2016. He points out a long-abandoned red-brick company store; the lane where all the managers lived. It’s Friday, and that means team lunch. They’re all going to need to be fluent in C#. calls for a 'Task Force on Coal and Power Plant Communities' to reinvigorate communities that depend on mining and coal as their economic backbone. We drive out through Pike County, down the side of a mountain on a gravel road, until we reach the 1920’s-era duplex houses of a former company coal camp called Stone. All rights reserved. You know, make Bloomberg in his smart suit eat crow for once. But what’s really haunting to Justice is not these old bodies, but the newly dead: each bend in the road reveals another abandoned mine, their massive conveyer belts gone silent. “It’s like welding. A brainstorming session left a swirl of ideas. At first Ratliff struggled to keep up. It’s a skill.”. Now this is like going into an empty stadium, that’s crumbling. Don’t you go thinking — not for even a second — that BitSource has found the answer. “This is heartbreaking. They’re not Stanford grads in hoodies, or dropouts in turtlenecks. The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. A mine project manager who, after hours, brought his Xbox to Call of Duty marathons at a buddy’s house. Ratliff knew probably what the employers would want to hear, but “I wanted to be honest.” He answered: overhaul an engine. The optimism surrounding the place doesn’t make the sight of Eastern Kentucky hurt any less. But then things got really weird when he starting talking about coal miners. Hall is happy with all the updates, whether they’re serious or not. Lynn and Rusty even had the perfect space already: A vacant, block-long Coca-Cola bottling plant that they’d bought in the spring. In fact, they’ve already got a name for this reinvention effort, the concept that ties everything together. Each coal job supports three-and-a-half others, which means if you pull the plug on them, the economy goes out. They called them company towns for a reason. Instead, Lafer recommended training people and investing in industries that have to stay local. And then there’s the work. Coal is to Eastern Kentucky what tech is to Silicon Valley — the most copious, best-paid work that pushes every other lever in the economy. There go 70 percent of Justice’s construction jobs. Coal piles at the base of a conveyor belt after being cleaned. Some displaced coal workers do transition into other fields or industries, but critics say that the jobs that former coal workers usually find tend to pay only $12 to $15 dollars per hour as opposed to the approximate $75,000 a year salary that coal workers had while working in the mines. It’s a trade. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently announced $2 million in funding from the National Dislocated Workers fund, and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced a fund of more than $1 million from the same fund. “Don’t they need a computer science degree?” asked Justice. Josh Benton, the deputy secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet in mining-heavy Kentucky, told Ohio Valley ReSource that the biggest problem is whether or not workers actually have other jobs based out of where they live. The coders are getting it — they’re building websites, closing contracts. Just eight months in, the miners are now building webpages and apps and closing contracts. Intrigued, Justice and Parrish piled back into the F-150. The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn — The dawn of a new era? Justice never imagined the crash would be this sudden nor this bad, but things just keep piling on. the biggest problem is whether or not workers actually have other jobs based out of where they live. Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake!”. “Last 24: definitely have not looked at C#,” says Michael Harrison. And, like any good startup, they kicked it off by making a T-shirt. You’re not going to teach a coal miner to code. But it’s fragile, just 10 people out of thousands, and it has yet to even recover its costs, let alone make a profit. Other than taking chewing tobacco breaks, it’s their one social activity (no happy hours when everyone commutes an hour each way to work, or has kids to get back to). It’s just as important they know he’s speaking emoji when he says “sad face” in a sentence, and that they crack up at programmer memes. Hall was the one who scrapped together open-sourced curriculum for BitSource. The real question isn't can you teach some specific coal miner to code. It’s the subtler side of coder culture, the exuberant and unrepentant nerd-dom. There was just one woman—a mining engineer who was originally from Mexico, and had been out of work for two years. Shawn Hopkins, a former newspaper reporter, helps Paul Gorman look over a section of code. Then came an email with a BitSource job offer. That’s less than miner wages, but it was better than working at the McDonald’s double-lane drive-thru downtown. One guy was a college-educated mechanic who’d repaired conveyer belts running out the mines on the third-shift “dead crew.” Another was a brawny former Army corporal who inspected the mines for safety hazards. They can’t go home again. More than a century later, Hall looks and acts like a calm, khaki-wearing suburban dad, who is seriously stoked when @SiriouslySusan follows BitSource on Twitter. Now they’re hitting the unemployment office in the thousands, signing up for help. Worn and torn boots sit in the locker room of a nearby coal mine. To say that his handlers must have been gnashing their teeth is an understatement. Rusty, you see, runs a land-moving company in Eastern Kentucky, and the anti-coal movement is playing a big role in systematically closing down the industry he’s worked around all his life. Some dropped out the first week. Outsiders have never gotten Appalachia — or else, they get the version they want: the one with the meth and Mountain Dew mouth, the incest, the painkillers, the welfare, all captured by journalists parachuting in for their regular dose of poverty porn. Aug 25, … “Once we got the idea of BitSource, it was like, ‘Look here, buddy, you’ll see what we’re going to be,’” Justice says. It is, are there other industries, for those displaced workers to go to work,”, Some former coal workers resist the training programs altogether. Ratliff is not one to walk away from a challenge. That’s why, at dawn one October morning last year, he trotted down his driveway towards a silver F-150 truck idling in the street and drove some 150 miles along the Mountain Parkway to Lexington. This final group of candidates had been out of the pandemic is surging Affiliate Partnerships with retailers boots in! Unemployment ran out in March, Jim ratliff walked through BitSource ’ s newest coders miners want learn... 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