I live with my dog Loki, and though he’s a fantastic and demanding companion, he isn’t much of a conversationalist–though he does stare at me like he understands my every word, and has trained me to know the timing of his mid-morning snack or “dessert” chicken strip.
No, he doesn’t lift a paw to shovel snow or vacuum up all the hair he leaves behind, but he will burrow into the sheets of my bed and use the pillow. He’s a spoiled and vital member of my social pod, just not the only one.
Sharing the same space matters
I’m lucky to join plenty of video calls and to have close relationships with people I see through virtual channels every week. It seems much harder to hold onto connections with folks who live far away, or whose work, lives or circumstances make it difficult to stay in touch.
Sharing the same space really matters. It helps us understand each other more fully, with compassion, and to better communicate the nuance when making a point, light heartedly ribbing a friend, sharing a favorite song by oversharing it, or dishing out another cinnamon roll–oh how I miss my mother’s homemade holiday cinnamon rolls! And what I miss every single day is hugs.
Until the time comes when I feel safer traveling, gathering, and sharing the same space with others, though, I’m doing what many of us are doing. I’m staying mostly isolated, engaging with people from afar, and making calls and doing screen time to catch up with those I love and miss.
Getting the old gang back together
Every six weeks or so, I get together with a group I call the Santa Barbara gang. We worked at the Environmental Defense Center back in the 90s and early “aughts,” and bonded into one of those chosen families that endures the miles and decades apart. We used to go on work trips where we’d bunk in the same room to save money, and do side jaunts to ski or snowshoe, or just share very strong drinks at Jimmy’s on Fridays. We did legal work much like we do at Trustees, and our connection stuck.
We’re not so young anymore, but we’ve stayed in touch over the years, tracking each other’s adventures, supporting each other in hard times, and of course exaggerating and laughing about the glory days. It feels calming to hang out with folks from that other time of my life, even if we’re not at Jimmy’s.
Most of us have gone through an extraordinary year full of extraordinary challenges. How those challenges, changes, and hardships look and feel (and how we remember them) differs for each of us, but we have 2020 as common grounding and common ground. We all share the context of this time.
The tenor and the returning light
Today’s newsletter captures the tenor of the year–indeed, the last four years–for Trustees and our partners, and the weight of the ongoing burden carried by those in frontline communities fighting daily to protect water and land, salmon and caribou, food and traditions, their homelands and sacred lands, their voices and their seats at the table.
You might say that every time I meet up with the Santa Barbara gang, I’m reminded about how much courage, endurance, support and love it takes to protect what matters–and that what matters is never defended just once, but over and over again through the years, the decades, the centuries, the millennia.
My winter reverie: finding connection however I can safely get it
Even now, in a time of physical distance and hunkering down, I feel less alone thinking about my connection through the miles and time to all who have lived through extraordinary challenges.
To all of them, and to all of you, may winter solstice bring nothing but extraordinary light–and may you look to each other to find it, and to the night sky when Saturn and Jupiter appear as a “double planet” in their closest conjunction in 800 years.1
Loki and I will be looking up in awe for sure.
Vicki Clark, executive director
PS. Thanks to supporters like you, we can continue fighting to protect Alaska’s land, water, air, wildlife and people!
- Jupiter and Saturn will come within 0.1 degrees of each other, forming the first visible “double planet” in 800 years
We filed a motion this week to stop the outgoing Trump administration from selling off sacred and public land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the last throes of its term.
A November court win upheld the prohibition of brown bear baiting in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, but a new proposed rule threatens to undermine those protections by allowing Kenai brown bear baiting for the first time.
The U.S. Army Corps denied a key permit for the proposed Pebble mine in late November. Now Bristol Bay leaders have a plan for protecting Bristol Bay forever.