Performance, education, and collaborative research for health, justice, and community-building.

The Lilies Project, ArtPlace America

Creative communication collaborations for environmental, racial, and health justice in Stokes County, North Carolina. A 2018-2020 focus on addressing coal ash through arts + parks. A 2015-17 focus on residents’ stories about dealing with coal ash as an issue of health and civil rights of statewide and national concern.

  • Celebrating CourageHoly Spirit, Story + Song Workshop, co-led with Tracey Brown Edwards

  • Community Booth for DEQRestoration + Respect, a photography initiative led by Will Warasila

  • Dan River Blessing — Five year anniversary of Dan River coal ash spill downstream; The Lilies Project artful prayer ritual and river blessing with clergy, affected community at Dan River banks in Danbury

About The Lilies

Purpose: To address coal ash waste and environmental health through public parks, visual and performing arts. Further, to build and sustain community in the rural US south by celebrating Stokes County NC’s legacies of abolition, reconstruction, desegregation, and environmental health organizing that attains civil rights and racial justice against the odds, and through the power of story, song, and shared histories of change-making.

Contribution: Joining efforts in art, science, archival documentation, health information, and community-led education and advocacy to strengthen an intergenerational sense of place. Honoring powerful models of Black-led, faith-, youth- and family-led organizing to celebrate, envision, and act for environmental, health, and racial justice in the rural south.

Lilies Project Co-Hosts Poor People’s Campaign for Ecological Justice—former Vice President Al Gore, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Community Advocates for Belews Creek Steam Station Press Conference

  • Ecological Justice Moral Revival (2018) see min 1:39 to 1:43 and 1:45 to 1:50 for the story of Yara Allen’s “Somebody’s Hurting Our People, and We Won’t Be Silent Anymore” — sung worldwide, at The Vatican, in state capitols across the US, & dedicated to Tracey Brown o/b/o her mom Annie Brown & Stokes Co. coal ash affected communities

  • Archival reference: Dan River Spill Moral Monday (2014), min 6:30, lyrics here and here

photos: Steven Paul Whitsett (SPW Photography, prayer circle), Walt Unks (Winston Salem Journal, Press Conference), and MG personal photos (community events)

Addressing Coal Ash as a Health + Civil Rights Concern

2015-2017 NAACP NC Collaboration — Oral Histories toward US Commission on Civil Rights Hearing

US Commission on Civil Rights 2016 Hearing, held in Walnut Cove, NC: Examining Health and Environmental Issues Related to Coal Ash Disposal in North Carolina. (Assisted Southeast Regional director in gathering community testimony for public comment, and panelist testimony throughout the day).

Publication of research: “Creative Advocacy and Oral History in Issues of Health, Cancers, and Coal Ash Disposal.U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Federal docket submission on behalf of UNC IRB 15-2371, Breast Cancer Action, NAACP NC. May 2016 (by Marie Garlock with Stokes County Collaborators).


Creative Resistance Keynote Event with Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler, and Alliance of Carolinians Against Coal Ash (organizing committee, Breast Cancer Action collaboration with ACT), Sonja Hanes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Maundy Thursday Press Conference for NC DEQ, emcee, collaborative design and organizing with primary speakers—affected community members communicating their 40+ years of truths to state regulatory agency tasked with making coal ash pond risk designation; advocacy for “High Risk” given potential loss of life and property were Belews Creek Steam Station dam to burst (organizer at request of Appalachian Voices, collaboration with ProgressNC)


With EPA Rule Change, Worries Linger for Those Near Coal Ash.” CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, consultant to producer Nadia Kounang with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, feat. Danielle Bailey Lash, 6 min, Summer 2018

Climate Listening Project: The Story We Want.”  Consultant to film team and director Dayna Reggero, Climate Listening Project, feat. Tracey Brown Edwards, Caroline Rutledge Armijo, 7 min, Fall 2017

America Divided: Private Money in Public Policy.” Consultant to DP and research team on health effects, environmental justice, civil rights contexts of coal ash advocacy, Working Films with EPIX (co-produced by Common, Shonda Rhimes, Norman Lear; host in NC Zach Galifianakis), 60 min, Fall 2016


"Clinical Care Implications of Environmental Health Injustices" Nov 2017 for Intensive Integration Curriculum (200 Clinical Application Phase Medical Students + Interdisciplinary Faculty, UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine)

Featuring Naeema Muhammed, Co-Founder, Director NC Environmental Justice Network; Dr. Snehal Patel, Duke University School of Medicine; Libby McClure, UNC-CH School of Public Health Epidemiology; Marie Garlock UNC-CH Communication for Health + Social Change (panelist + co-organizer with faculty)

Danielle Bailey Lash (stage III brain tumor, diagnosed 35 y/o), November 2017, Clinical Interaction in Coal Ash Communities, 12 min, key portion 1:24-7:28 

1:00-1:24 -- clinical support for health insurance coverage

1:24-7:28 -- clinical interaction regarding coal ash information, concerns patient brought to providers

7:29-12:25 -- local context of coal ash in rural NC communities, e.g., cooling lake becomes recreation destination, sustenance fishing from contaminated lakes; coal ash from containment ponds seeps into groundwater, drinking water, etc

NC ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PDF Complete Booklet 2017 NC Environmental Justice Issues

Explore international media presence on coal ash in Walnut Cove, Walnut Tree, Pine Hall, Stokes, NC:

3 minute short (film), At What Cost?. Stokes County NC residents near Belews Creek Steam Station

7 minute short (film), The Story We Want. Residents' organizing to improve conditions for themselves and their kids, while living near coal ash waste Climate Listening Project

6 minute special (television), CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta: EPA Coal Ash Ruling with Danielle Bailey Lash

1 hour documentary (film, television), America Divided: Private Funds Influence Public Policy, Duke Energy and NC Legislature, hosted at Belews Creek Steam Station with Tracey Brown Edwards and Zach Galifianakis

Cover article (print, web), Newsweek: Why Geographic Cancer Clusters Are Impossible to Prove — 1 of rotating covers for Cancer Special Edition, with Danielle Bailey-Lash

Article (print, web), Scientific American: Coal Ash Poisons Wells and Community Relations — on regulatory and industrial malpractice, with David Hairston and Danielle Bailey Lash

Article (print, web), The Ecologist: Coal Ash, America’s Multi-Billion Ton Toxic Legacy, on coal ash waste streams at Belews with global ramifications, with Danielle Bailey Lash, Amy Adams, Will Scott

Article (print, web), Facing South: NC Produces Flawed Study to Dismiss Cancer Cluster Fears Near Duke Energy Coal Plants — with Danielle Bailey Lash and Dr. Steve Wing of UNC Chapel Hill School of Public Health (Epidemiology)