It’s our birthday on Dec. 16–and this year we get to blow out 45 candles! We may need to invest in some carbon credits! 😉
To celebrate, we’d like to take a deep breath and reflect with gratitude on all the people who commit to taking care of Alaska, the planet, and each other. We want to first acknowledge and honor the leaders and elders who have come before us, guided us, and taught us to think generations ahead.
We want to further recognize and stand in solidarity with young people who show us the power of speaking up for climate action, standing up for their ways of life, and calling for responsibility and accountability in their elders.
We’re the lawyers based in Alaska, focused on Alaska
We are so grateful to our supporters and founders, who saw the need for lawyers–EEK!–and filled it.
Trustees exists because a few people knew that Alaska needed a law firm to hold government agencies and polluters accountable. It was the 1970s, and they knew that the force of greed coupled with a colonial, industrial concept of “progress” had resulted in rivers on fire and acid rain. They wanted Alaska to be different-with sustainable ways of living and a view toward protecting intact and wild places.
They knew the possibility of the end of wildlife diversity, the end of clean water, and perhaps the end of nature if they failed to use the law to protect and defend Alaska’s lands and waters.
We’re the lawyers in it for the long haul
What they might not have known is that over four decades later, we would still be fighting to protect the Arctic, Bristol Bay, public lands, wildlife, salmon fisheries, and Alaska communities-and that we would, in fact, be confronted with the most environmentally destructive administration in U.S. history in a time of climate and human rights crises.
Fortunately, back in 1974, the essential DNA of Trustees prepared us for today. Those who come to Alaska to extract fossil fuels and minerals for profit see water, land, animals and people as obstacles to overcome or just expendable. We see those systems as the essential stakeholders and voices in our work-as, in fact, the essential heart of a livable planet.
So in this month of holidays and birthdays-three of them, including ours, ANILCA’s and the Arctic Refuge’s–I propose some useful and healthy wishful thinking, but not the kind that ignores facts or requires nothing from us. Let’s call them New Year’s intentions and promise to work toward them every day.
We’re working for justice for all
Let’s promise to demand dignity and respect for human beings and living things by expecting it, giving it, and forcefully calling out policies, processes, people and bureaucracies that deny it.
Let’s promise to demand “justice for all” by questioning the status quo, doing the learning and unlearning of cultural and implicit bias at work within current systems and ourselves, and calling out injustice happening in these blind spots.
Let’s promise to demand the same arc toward dignity and justice in ourselves that we want in the world. When engaging with others, let’s promise to listen toward understanding and to do so with empathy, rather than preparing to counter another viewpoint. Getting outside our comfort zones is where change, and magic, happens.
We are lucky here at Trustees to work with many, many wise and thoughtful colleagues, clients, partners, and supporters like you who remind us every day to take a deep breath and reflect on what we do, how we do it, and why it matters.
Because dignity and justice, understanding and empathy, well they are the ingredients of a thriving democratic society. To that, we look to the New Year, and wish you a wonderful and happy holiday with friends and family. We look forward to standing beside you in 2020!
Vicki Clark, executive director
PS: Your support of Trustees for Alaska is critical now more than ever.
The Bureau of Land Management has proposed a revised management plan for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or the Western Arctic. Their options promote drilling, but what we need are more protections.
We came up with a wish list. It’s our birthday this month, after all, and a time for New Year’s wishes, too.
Please welcome our new legal assistant, and her many dogs!