I attended the 19th Annual Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE) earlier this month.  The week was jammed full of information about environmental issues we face in Alaska, and I left the Dena’ina Center day after day, accumulating a sense of overwhelming urgency, a need to do something. 

The water is warming, the air temperatures are like never before, wildfires are at unprecedented levels, the ocean is changing in ways so complicated that even chief scientists aren’t sure what to make of it, climate changes abound and are altering traditional ways of life in communities throughout the state…it would seem that all signs point to certain disaster.  And yet…

If you look closely, and listen carefully, you may just find what I did:  inspiration, in many forms.  Stories of success!

Youth teaching across generations about the story of the salmon and what culture means to them, Tribal members working with University scientists to study permafrost thaw in remote regions of Alaska, whole sections of our state working together to notify shellfish harvesters when PSP levels are too high for consumption, remote regions working together to backhaul waste from rural villages, people coming together to make positive changes in their communities.

So what then, is the key to these successes?  In the face of all of these complicated and challenging problems for our earth, what can we do about it?

We can work together

In the words of Kathleen Dean Moore, “ What we cannot do alone, we can do together”.

If you, like me, are feeling overwhelmed by all of these issues – do not despair.  If AFE was any indication at all, there are people all over the world working together to make a difference.

So I urge you all – Today – pick up your phone, write an e-mail, start a conversation with someone you know or maybe a complete stranger- about an issue that is important to you.   It is in that relationship building that you will find a solution to the problem.  Create your own story of success, and share it with the world.  We will find inspiration only in each other.