Just to get this out of the way….
Before heading to Alaska, I had been spending some time at the Omaha Bicycle Company because they have a great coffee bar. Between hanging out there and talking to a couple friends who were into cycling, I developed a desire to get on a bike.
“I live two miles from campus and I have access to a bike. There’s no reason I should have to drive,” I would say to myself.
My experience in Alaska intensified my desire.
For one, I feel the need to be outside. Alaska is an outdoor state. I spent a majority of time outside while I was there and loved it. Now, the thought of sitting in air conditioned monotony all day while the weather is nice makes me sick.
Most importantly, I think, visiting rural Alaska made me much more conscious of the way I interact with my environment. Rural Alaska’s people, especially the Yup’ik natives, identify with their environment on a level that a midwest suburbs guy like myself can hardly understand. That’s not to say I don’t absolutely love my environment or that I don’t identify with it on a deep level. The environment IS Bethel’s identity. There is no separation between self and land.
Unfortunately, their source of identity is sick.
People can argue to what degree humanity has affected climate change, whatever, go crazy. The fact is it is happening and real people are being hurt.
As my friend, Tony SJ would say, “One person isn’t likely to change the world. All one can do is change the way they personally live. If one by one, we all do that, the world will change.”
Tony is right. There isn’t a whole lot I can do to change our trajectory. However, I can change the things in my own life that I am in control of.