Alaska Brief Newsletter–November 2017
I recently watched Frank Capra’s 1938 film, “You Can’t Take it with You,” again.
It’s a sentimental take on a play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. It tells the story of young lovers who come from vastly different families and economic classes. They’re in love and plan to get married, but the couple ends up tangled up in a family dynamic that pits corporate interests against an old-timer who won’t sell the last track of land for development.
Grandpa (played by Lionel Barrymore) says it best when harkening back to what he sees as a kinder, wiser, earlier time when people cared about and listened to each other rather than pandering to ideology. As he put it, “Nowadays they say, ‘Think the way I do or I’ll bomb the daylights out of you.'”
What will our future ancestors say about us?
The film hasn’t lost its relevance. Substitute “tweet” for “bomb” and you’ve got the rallying cry for daily life in America today. We see the carnage around us–the hateful words and real threats of bombs and violence.
Back in 1938, Americans were suffering the Great Depression. They felt the sting of the greed, lies and corruption that led to the global economic collapse. They were distrustful of government and the wealthy class.
What will they say 80 years from now when talking about us?
I hope they say we stood up
I hope they talk about how we united to resist policies that make inequity more pronounced. I hope they talk about how we stood up for each other and the basic rights in the Constitution. I hope they talk about how we protected the lands, waters, and wildlife around us for future generations.
And we can do that right now. Alaskans and Americans can speak out against the Ambler mega-project that would put a 200-plus-mile road in a thriving wilderness that numerous communities depend on to support their subsistence way of life and their culture.
Proposed road benefits private interest, not animals & people who live there
This road would cross Gates of the Arctic National Preserve and cut across one-third of the southern Brooks Range. Though as long as the Kenai Peninsula, this private industrial road would serve only the interests of an outside Canadian mining company.
The total cost of building, operating, and maintaining this project is expected to be between $844 and $906 million. It would further threaten the Western Arctic Caribou Herd–which has been declining–and abundant sheefish, whitefish, and salmon of the Alatna and Kobuk River drainages that are key subsistence resources in the region.
Public meetings are taking place throughout the state, including one on Monday, Nov. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage. Upcoming BLM meetings on the proposed road to Ambler will take place throughout Alaska: In Kobuk on Dec. 4, in Ambler on Dec. 5; in Kotzebue on Dec. 6; in Shungnak on Dec. 7; and in Evansville on Dec. 12.
Join us in speaking out against the proposed Ambler road. Speaking out and standing up for what we care about is one of the most important things we can do. Trustees has fought in court to protect our right to have a voice and adequate public process.
In the coming week, many of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate and show gratitude to each other and our communities. Doing that means listening and caring about the voices and needs of the people around us, and to the wild places we all need for healthy lives.
May you find nature, always, and find time to listen and care about the people you know and encounter.
PS: Your support of Trustees for Alaska is critical now more than ever.
Bill would turn the Coastal Plain–the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge–into another Prudhoe Bay.
Forty years a fisherman, a dozen years a Trustees board member, Jerry Liboff appeals to Alaskans to protect wild salmon, wild places, and the community and state he calls home.
Jane has been a business attorney for over 30 years. She joined the Trustees board to help protect wild places, and the wildlife and animals that depend on them.