After the November 2016 election, I gave myself a few days to grieve, and then I got motivated. I showed up to marches and engaged people around me in conversations about power and privilege and donated some money to organizations I cared about. Let’s keep fighting the good fight, I said.
Now, inevitably, it is difficult to keep fighting. Every time I read the news, it’s somehow worse than before. Keeping track of this administration’s attacks on civil liberties and public lands and basically everything I hold dear is like playing Whack-a-Mole. I almost feel nostalgic for the Bush years, when at least I wasn’t plagued by nightmares of the crumbling of American democracy as we know it. (Almost!) It is depressing and demoralizing and makes me feel a lot of feelings.
But! Those things don’t excuse inaction. Inaction on the part of white liberals like me is what got us here in the first place. That sucks to hear, but it’s a cross we have to bear.
I don’t have The Answer, obviously, to staying motivated, or I would’ve led with that. Instead, I am going to tell you things I’m doing and maybe you can tell me some things you’re doing and maybe, together, we can get a second wind. (Or a third, or fourth, or the infinite number of additional winds it’s going to take to weather this storm.)
- As of today, there are two days left in the comment period to express your opinion on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s review of 27 national monuments. I did it last week. If you need a primer or refresher on what’s going on there, here’s a good one. REI has an easy-to-use online portal for submitting comments.
- I am taking some time and energy to examine my own power and privilege as a White Person In America. It is uncomfortable, and it should be. I’m making a point of attending and being part of conversations facilitated by people who aren’t part of the same power groups as me (people of color, queer folks). I recently attended an especially thoughtful and productive session about power, privilege, and our responsibilities as outdoor professionals. It was put on by the excellent educators of cityWILD, and they’re hosting another one in Denver soon.
- I’m getting back to my roots as an outdoor educator, because I believe helping to eliminate barriers to access is one of the most useful things I can do as a white ally. I’m doing a little instructing and volunteering for Big City Mountaineers this summer. If you do not happen to be a professional outdoor educator, but do a) like spending time outside and b) enjoy being around kids and c) want to facilitate experiences for kids to be outside, you can volunteer with an org like BCM or help them fundraise.
- My friend Luc is doing a really cool thing called Stickers for Conservation where he sends people these beautiful stickers with original Alaskan art on them for making conservation-minded efforts. Call or write a representative, donate money to an organization, or come up with something else to speak up for public land, and then tell Luc about it and he’ll send you one. We have a few and they’re a great way to strike up a conversation. You should do it.
Okay. Now I’m going to spend the rest of this week recreating on public land, because basic self-care is keeping me from being entirely burned out.
What are you doing to stay motivated?