I remember the moment I became an environmental advocate. I must have been 5 or 6 and was watching an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks, seriously. Alvin is trying to save an eagle’s nest threatened by development and he travels to Washington DC and sits on Lincoln’s lap and asks for guidance and then somewhere during the episode he sings the “Love lift us up where we belong” song and the eagles are saved and I cried.
Well at least that is how I remembered it. I haven’t seen the episode in at least 32 years and now thanks to YouTube I found a brief clip of the episode. Turns out my memory was spot on. Why someone would want to destroy an eagle’s nest with a backhoe was something my little kid brain could not comprehend and it is something I still have difficulty understanding.
Today, walking home from a protest at the Utah State Capitol right after Donald Trump announced the “largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history,” I thought about Alvin and the eagles and I cried. I then went home crawled up into a little ball on the floor with a bar of dark chocolate and sobbed. I gave myself 15 minutes and then I got up, tuned into the news, and figured out what I could do next.
To quote Katie Lee, “…you’d better get off your ass and start protesting about places that you care about. Because the minute you find a place you really love, sure as shit something’s going to happen to it if you don’t make effort to protect it.
Take the time to be upset, but then turn all that frustration and anger into tangible action. I’ve listed 10 ideas for action – pick one or two if you can’t sleep tonight and tick the others off over the next week or come up with your own list of ideas for ways to stay involved while we continue to fight!
1) Help Build the Bears Ears Education Center in Bluff
The Friends of Cedar Mesa are hard at work getting a Bears Ears Education Center open in 2018.They need 100K by the end of the year to purchase a historic bar in Bluff, Utah to house the education center, and they are so close to meeting their goal! Donate here.
2) Learn More About Friends of Cedar Mesa
Speaking of Cedar Mesa, which unbelievably got the axe in the redrawing and shrinking of Bears Ears National Monument, the Friends of Cedar Mesa are going to be more important than ever. Educate yourself on the most respectful ways to visit ancient sites and volunteer for a service project!
3) Contribute to Utah Diné Bikéyah’s Legal Fund
“Designation of Bears Ears National Monument was achieved thanks to the historic leadership of Native American Tribes and the generosity of grassroots people like you. The depth of this historic victory can never be diminished.” Donations to the Utah Diné Bikéyah will go directly towards supporting the current legal battle to reinstate Bears Ears National Monument.
4) Learn More About Utah Diné Bikéyah
“Bears Ears National Monument creates an opportunity for Tribes to unite and think beyond reservation boundaries in order to care for our shared ancestral lands and heal from wounds we carry.” This temporary monumental disruption is not going to change this and the Utah Diné Bikéyah are doing some really cool things like strengthening traditional food culture and promoting indigenous food like harvesting a 10,000 year old potato.
5) Plan a Trip to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Sadly, I just read some comments in the New York Times that is advocating boycotting planned trips to Southern Utah. The Escalante and Boulder Utah Chamber of Commerce did not support the shrinking of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and are worried how this decision will effect their local economy. So go visit or support their local economy from afar like purchasing a cookbook by Hell’s Backbone Grill or purchasing art from local artists.
6) Educate Yourself!
Craig Child’s Finders Keepers gives an excellent history of the artifact plundering by individuals living adjacent to Bears Ears. Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West details the almost intentional disregard for human life in the Four Corners area by our federal government during the uranium heyday during and after the Cold War. Robbie of Kids Speak for Parks is our future!
7) Join an Activist Network in Your State
The beauty of public lands is that a resident of say Wisconsin or Maryland or Florida has just as much ownership and say as a resident of Utah. These lands belong to all Americans and the Southern Utah Wilderness Association has a network of activists in states all across the country so join a network close to you!
8) Let Orrin Hatch Know How Angry You Are
If you live in Utah, you can quick and easily fill out this form to send a letter to Orrin Hatch and let me know how you really feel! If you live elsewhere, find out how to contact your representative here!
9) Keep Spreading the Word via Social Media
The Utah Diné Bikéyah has provided free, royalty free images of Bears Ears National Monument so keep sharing the beauty of Bears Ears National Monument across your preferred social media avenues. Oh and support this
10) Keep Fighting, And Outlive those Bastards!
Ed Abbey might have said it best, “One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.“