In our work, we sometimes talk about going on the defensive.
For us, that means doing everything we can to hold the line in court when those with power make decisions and take actions that put the health of Alaska’s lands and communities, water and air at risk.
Defensive work requires focusing on stopping harmful things and sometimes forgetting to shine the light on what we can build together. So today, I want to shine that light again on who we are and what we stand for.
Why we came together
Trustees is a small nonprofit with attorneys who know the complexity of Alaska’s legal landscape. We got our start in 1974 when our founders saw the need for an Alaska-based law firm focusing on Alaska issues. At the time, political and industrial Outsiders saw Alaska as a capitalist “frontier.” They saw the lands now known as Alaska in terms of dollar signs and power, not as a home or even a long-lasting releationship.
A lot has changed since then. We now have 14 people on staff, including office, communications and development folks who do critical work that allows the lawyers to keep their attention on clients, partners, coalitions and legal actions. Board participation is engaged and engaging, with members with varied backgrounds, perspectives and insights.
We all do “Alaska” kind of things, like hiking, hunting, fishing, biking, gardening, harvesting mushrooms and berries, basking and gathering in the midnight sun, and propelling ourselves through the miles and months of darkness.
Other things haven’t changed, or at least not enough. The industrial threats to sacred and public lands, ways of life, wildlife habitat, and clean water and air continue to demonstrate how Alaska is repeatedly perceived as a resource colony to leverage and a dollar to make, rather than as a home and a future.
What the world could be
What we want is similar to what many Alaskans want.
We want people many generations from now to live where there are thriving salmon runs, caribou herds and bird migrations. We want clean water that supports all the life and vitality necessary for the health of waterways and wetlands. We want lands treated with care and respect, so that plants and animals can continue to nourish each other, their habitats and our communities. We want economies of care that take care of everyone.
You know, this year, like so many of you, Trustees lost some dear friends and colleagues — scientist, teacher and board member Todd Radenbaugh, Arctic Refuge advocate and leader Adam Kolton of the Alaska Wilderness League, and attorney, climate action advocate and former board member Deborah “Shocky” Greenberg.
What I remember most about these friends is not what they fought against, but what they stood for, what they hoped, what they saw the world could be.
Now, well into the season of sunlight and renewal, I want to make a point of keeping that light shined on what we, together, are fighting for.
May the sun shine on you all,
Vicki Clark, executive director
PS. Thanks to supporters like you, we can continue fighting to protect Alaska’s land, water, air, wildlife and people!