Ashley Funk grew up an hour outside Pittsburgh. The area feels kind of left behind with buildings named after mining companies and polluted ponds turned fluorescent, alarming colors.
By the time she was in high school, Ashley was a full-blown climate activist. She even joined a lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania, alleging it had not done enough to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Her beliefs put her at odds with her own family. Ashley’s father, Mark, describes himself as a “coal burning farmer.” During the primary season, Ashley was supporting Bernie Sanders and her father was an ardent Trump supporter.
It seemed like the two couldn’t agree on anything. But when they start talking about local, natural gas jobs that have been popping up in southwest Pennsylvania, there is some common ground.
“Our area has been neglected since the collapse of the steel industry, the collapse of the coal industry, and finally something’s coming back, and I think that’s giving people hope,” Ashley says. “But I am nervous; in order to make money people exploit the environment.”
Her father now agrees that bringing life back to the local economy can’t come at the cost of the environment.