Ungrateful // grateful: Alaska News Brief November 2022

Okay, it’s true. Sometimes I want to stay in bed.

It’s cold and dark, and it’s been a few hard years for all of us, and the water line in the house is taking forever to get fixed, and I’m just not entirely grateful for everything right now.

I love the snow and am not so grateful when shoveling it. I love being with loved ones over the holidays and am not so fond of traveling on crowded planes during the busiest, stormiest time of the year. And, yes, I love reading and seeing the news, and I am sick and tired of pundits.

I’m decidedly, absolutely, quite committedly ungrateful for professional opinion makers.  

I’m fed up with hearing the same people doing op-eds and color commentary as if they’re the only ones whose opinions count. Right left center, it doesn’t matter.

I want to hear from people never given those platforms and bullhorns. I want to engage in ways that defy political divisions. I want to hear more real-world stories than arguments founded on agendas that have lost their way.

What did Greta Thunberg say in that September speech to world leaders? “Blah blah blah.”

Words without action? Promises without follow through? Big ideas without heart?  It’s true, “blah blah blah” doesn’t mean much in the grander scheme of things. Kindness does. Sharing and caring does. Paying attention to each other does.

Seeking other perspectives, experiences, engagements does; listening to bird song, the rustle of moose eating leaves, the crunch of a dog’s rhythmic trot on the cold packed snow does.

Yes, everyone has opinions, and there’s a good saying about that. Most people have good intentions, too, and can choose to put that intention into sharing their ideas and values in other ways, possibly with  greater impact and purpose.

Maybe when we can grow beyond the limitations of opinions, we begin to remember what we’re truly grateful for, what we’re really committed to, what we won’t let divide and steal from us. 

Loki says Frisbees are more fun to chase than pundits.

I’m grateful for good friends and family. I’m grateful for Loki my grizzled four-legged companion. I’m grateful for silliness and parody and good humor. I’m grateful for the possibility, soon, of getting into the ocean again to swim with the fish and sharks.

I’m grateful that I have the resources to travel to these diving spots and that so many people work to keep them clean. I’m grateful that I work alongside all of you in protecting the communities and places.

I’m especially grateful this month because the Environmental Protection Agency has resumed a process that could potentially put in place enduring protections for Bristol Bay before the summer fishing season.

I’m especially grateful this week that the House passed a reconciliation bill that repeals the Arctic Refuge oil leasing plan and gives the Senate the opportunity to do the same and therefore restore protections for those sacred lands by the end of the year. It also contains a good start to addressing the wealth gap. I’m glad it contains climate provisions as well, but there is so much more needed, as Greta champions.

And I’m grateful that people like you keep taking action and speaking up.

After all, gratefulness is a feeling we have to make space for, and also a moment of reflection poised on the precipice of action.

We can leave the pundits to “blah blah blah” in their echo chambers.

We’ve got better, kinder, more meaningful things to do.

Vicki Clark, executive director

PS. Thanks to supporters like you, we can continue fighting to protect Alaska’s land, water, air, wildlife and people!


What’s Up with Peg?


Steller’s eider pair in the Arctic. Photo by Peter Pearsall, USFWS

For the birds


The Bristol Bay way


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