Alaska Brief–March 2020: A time of change, a time of care

We face a shared global experience of unknowns and volatility right now, but no two people share the same perspective, vulnerabilities and emotions. No two communities face the same challenges and realities.

Despite our differing circumstances and needs, we’re in this together. I think the global Covid-19 pandemic illustrates just how connected we all are.

We send our best wishes and support to all of you as we navigate these enormous impacts together. Please contact us if you feel we can help, or if you want to talk or share your story and experience. Our entire Trustees’ team is working remotely now, but we’re still doing the work necessary to protect the Alaska we all love.

Our connections with each other have not changed; social distancing just changes the physical manifestation of them. Truth is, I find great comfort in knowing that I can count on Trustees’ staff, Board, and all of you to look out for each other.

Yes, there is a lot to be said about how we got here as a nation and world, what is currently being done, and what we collectively must do for justice, equity, and community well-being. For now, though, I want to share some thoughts about how to stay healthy in our hearts, thoughts, and actions.

Share and prepare. It’s natural and even healthy to overreact a bit when new threats arise, because that’s how we prepare for them (1). A bit of temporary overreaction can help us rehearse and avoid overreacting later. So, if you bought extra supplies and provisions, offer to share them with those in need–or those who may not have gotten to the store before supplies ran out. Let people know they can count on others to help.

If you can safely do it, go outside! For me, that means walking my dog, breathing fresh air, and feeling the snowy ground under my feet. The noise of motors and planes and machines has quieted; nature has reclaimed its voice in small ways (2). It’s soothing to move within natural rhythms and with other living beings right now–and to learn from the interconnectedness that defines the living world.

Employ social media distancing. Yes, the online world can keep us connected as we keep a physical distance from each other, but take long breaks from screens and information overload. Your brain needs a rest from constant stimulus and distraction. Use technology with intention rather than letting it become the means and end of experience and perspective.

Make things. Make poems. Make knit caps. Make pasta. Make things with your hands. Make sense of your experience. Make time for reflection. Make a difference.
I am deeply grateful for who you all are, what all of you do, and for all we do together. Tend to your loved ones and yourself, and reach out for help. Be kind. We are all here for each other.

In solidarity for our community health,

Vicki Clark
Executive Director

1) The Teachable Moment in Crisis Communications
2) What the coronavirus tells us about our relationship with the natural world


Missing Bella Hammond

Here, Vicki remembers and celebrates her friendship with Bella Hammond, a woman of action and advocate for Alaska.


An image from the Just Transition Summit. Salmon, water and a cityscape
Image by Alaska artist Jessi Thornton.

A time of change, a time of care

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Alaskans are already facing great change–and making care-taking and regeneration the foundation of the future. 


Beluga whales surfacing in Cook Inlet.
Photo by Paul Wade, NOAA Fisheries.

Looking to the sea

We can learn from the whales and the sea. Here, Nancy Lord shares a beluga poem.


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