I recall that there were many who thought 2016 was a really bad year. Well, 2017 will go down as a hard one for the planet and civil rights. Being a glass-half-full kind of person, even when it is difficult to be, I also view 2017 as a year of connection and healing. Let me explain.
About a month ago, my dog Loki was hit by a car. He’s recovering well now, but things looked pretty bleak at the time.
He and I were playing Frisbee in the snow when he saw someone he knows across the road abutting the park. His love of his human pack–and it is large–is great. Loki bolted to greet her. We both tried to call him off, but it was too late.
The driver of the car had slowed considerably by the time of impact, but the roads were slick and the morning dark. Loki took the hit on the right rear side and went down hard. When I got to him, he nipped my hand lightly but repeatedly while whimpering, as if to say, “What just happened? Why does it hurt like this?”
Immediately, my friend and I went to his side, and so did the car’s driver and a bystander who saw it happen. We first moved Loki onto a dog bed I had in my car, and then lifted the dog bed into the back seat.
I drove while my friend held him on her lap behind me. Only constant human contact kept him from crying.
In the minutes, hours, days and now weeks since, people have assessed him, settled him, cleaned him up, inflated his lung, and stapled him back together. They have visited, brought treats, given love, and helped him learn to use his hip again.
The healing is far from done, but well on the way. And I am grateful to everyone who came together to help us to make progress. Hope from adversity.
On a macro level, you might say we are similarly watching our conservation legacy get hit by a train.
The GOP majority just used a completely disingenuous budget process to push through a substantive drill bill that opens the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development–a move that has absolutely nothing to do with generating revenue.
Shortly before voting for that tax bill, Secretary Zinke pushed out plans to diminish public lands like Bears Ears National Monument by up to 85 percent. These are the public’s lands that provide resilience for our American spirit and Native American culture. They represent the legacy of wild places intended for preservation for future generations.
Here in Alaska, Northern Dynasty just announced a potential new investing partner to fuel its mining agenda against the wishes of Alaska’s Bristol Bay communities and the majority of Alaskans. After ten years and on the eve of the holidays, the company will drop a permit application. Clearly the deal the CEO made with Scott Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that both the company and the agency hope to accelerate permitting at the expense of public input and twice-peer-reviewed science.
This is the tip of the iceberg of attacks made on our shared waters and lands, and our communities, cultures, and ways of life. One of the biggest problems with these attacks is that they are not rational; these actions are about political “wins,” not the best interest of Americans.
The drivers of this train do not intend to slow down, of course, but they will get derailed.
Here is the silver lining. More and more Americans are paying attention and have already come together in marches and rallies, and galvanized through social media and town halls. People have connected, protected, defended and spoken up. Many of them, at this very moment, are calling out their leaders in D.C. for selling out our communities and future generations.
The connections made this past year give us strength for the next one, because together we are stronger. The camaraderie and commiseration has given so many others the confidence to speak out and speak loud.
As we go into the holidays, I nurture this strength in my heart because I know our relationships and connections will help heal the people and natural world bearing the brunt of these attacks. I know our gathering strength will help us resist ill-conceived policies, ignorance, and hate.
You can rest assured, Trustees will exert our legal strength in tandem with the strength of our partners every step of the way.
PS: Your support of Trustees for Alaska is critical now more than ever.