What just happened? How is it already the end of 2016?
Today is the Winter Solstice, perhaps my favorite holiday because it gives us pause. Pause to appreciate the gift of light (for real) and a sense of rebirth; solstice draws from new energies in the atmosphere which create transitions that I totally don’t even pretend to understand. But by all means, I do my best to embrace. This is starting to sound like one of my Mom’s holiday cards...
This past year was one of ups (seriously HUGE ups) and downs for the Salmon Beyond Borders campaign. For those of you I’ve not yet had the chance to meet, let me just say that I am a real human, and therefore intend to deliver this message as a real human would. I don’t always get to write these messages to you, our remarkable support crew, because I have colleagues that are way better at this kind of thing. However, I’ve been feeling the weight of the world as of late, and I absolutely wanted to take this opportunity to tell you, for real, how incredibly proud I am to be part of this campaign, this movement...this remarkable THING - with YOU.
From our meetings with the United States Department of State, to the United States Ambassador to Canada and subsequent Consulate Staff to meetings with the members of the University of Alaska Southeast Sustainability Club, I am humbled by the resonating call for action to protect the transboundary rivers of Southeast Alaska and the people dependant upon them.
I was asked to write about what I am most proud of for the campaign. That’s easy. YOU. We had numerous opportunities for the public to submit comments, sign petitions, send letters, eat and donate sustainable seafood, take pictures, watch movies, answer questions, etc. And you did. And you did it WELL. The support we are so fortunate to have garnered from our elected leaders is because you told them that this issue matters. That these rivers matter. These salmon matter. This is not just about our fishing communities - it’s about watersheds, the future, our food security. It’s about health and safety. It’s about governance. It’s about community. And we are so thankful to be part of this working community.
I was also asked recently about what will come of this issue in 2017 with the impending administration. Thankfully I had just had an insightful conversation with one of my best friends at Coppa in Juneau, and I now feel more prepared to answer.
My best and most honest answer: think globally, act locally.
Alaska: More than 7,000 Alaskans have signed onto our petition calling for international binding and enforceable protections for the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk transboundary rivers. Although this number is impressive - we know Alaskans can do better. Tell your friend, your neighbor, your deckhand - about this issue. Talk to them about ways we can better relay information to you - ways we can help each other reduce, reuse, and recycle - alternative energy sources - local food systems, including but not even limited to salmon! And no, I’m not pulling out the old play book here - this stuff really matters and is part of the bigger picture - part of the future.
United States: More than 25,000 Americans have signed onto our petition. Why do Americans care? Because they recognize how much ALASKANS VALUE sustainable seafood, quality of life, pristine environment, and clean water. And because governance matters. And Canada has not given us reason to trust that they VALUE what WE VALUE quite the same way. So again, tell your people. Tell your story. Tell them about Alaska.
2017 needs us. And I am ready. And we need you. We have some exciting things brewing with our partners in Alaska and in BC and we cannot wait to share them with you. Are you in Vancouver? Sweet, we’ll see you there, and with world-renowned chefs in tow. Are you in Southeast Alaska? Cool, join us at your upcoming community assembly meetings (dates and locations TBD). Are you somewhere far away - like my friend in Africa getting her PhD? Or on a commercial fishing vessel in the middle of the Bering Sea? We’ve got stuff for you, too (online, of course, silly). Southeast Feast with a new twist? Stay tuned.
Keep up with us on our website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter to learn what’s next and ways to get involved. Also, have you checked out our new swag? Our online store is back in action, ready to kick 2017 in the teeth.
Here’s to the new energies in the universe, the unknowns, and the knowns - like the fact that we’re all in this together - like we’ve already been. With the most sincere thanks I can muster - from the core of my being - I bid farewell to 2016, and tremble with might for 2017. It’s go time.
Salmon Beyond Borders
P.S. - My mom wishes you all a happy winter! :)
Looking back on the past year I find it very difficult to identify one story or moment that is emblematic of what I think was most meaningful or profound in the work of Salmon Beyond Borders. The thing that stands out to me most is the connections that have either been made or strengthened between people who care about protecting the rivers that sustain us and, ultimately, draw us together.
Thinking about this feels especially poignant to me after enduring a year whose end has been punctuated with politics that paint such strong pictures of division. For my own strength and psychological wellbeing, I have been looking to emphasize ways of finding common ground with those who I come into contact with and drawing closer to those I am already connected to in all aspects of my life and work.
Just today I found a passage that, I feel, exemplifies the kind of thinking that extends beyond the politics of people and reaches to the core of how minds and hearts can move toward finding solutions based on what we all experience as humans. The exercise of finding a passage of writing to share with co-workers as a gift to bring to each other led me to this:
“‘Love seems paramount to me. Seeing through the world, explaining it, despising it may be crucial to great thinkers. But all I care about is to be able to love the world, not to despise it, not to hate it or myself, to be able to view it and myself and all beings with love and admiration and awe.’”—Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Looking back at the past year I see people we have connected with because of their orientation around fish and water. They are part of a river of faces that is flowing together in time and our numbers are growing. This river of people brings gladness to me, makes my heart feel strong and full, and it brings me hope.
It is my wish that you feel a sense of hope and love in the New Year.
Salmon Beyond Borders
Organizer and Connector
SALMON BEYOND BORDERS is a campaign driven by sport and commercial fishermen, community leaders, tourism and recreation business owners and concerned citizens, in collaboration with Tribes and First Nations, united across the Alaska/British Columbia border to defend and sustain our transboundary rivers, jobs and way of life.
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