by Emily Thompson, Volunteer Program Director
At 10 a.m. on January 20, while much of the world had its eyes on the inauguration, I was sitting on a beautiful beach in Nicaragua watching the waves roll in. The most stressful thing I experienced that day was waiting for a break in the wave set so I could paddle out on my surfboard and catch a perfect ride back to shore. For the next week, I didn’t check my email. I didn’t read the news or pay attention to the barrage of “what on earth is happening?” social media posts. I chose to refuel, re-energize, and mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the upcoming year of important work I am committed to do. I knew I would need it.
At midnight on January 27, I took a shuttle from the Phoenix airport back to my parked car and was immediately thrust back into reality. The shuttle driver felt compelled to catch me up on all the “good” news I had missed. He spoke of the recent executive orders, the border wall, the Keystone Pipeline, the Affordable Care Act, and hiring freezes. My blissed-out self had a tough time even processing his words. Aaaand vacation over.
While many of the Trump administration’s actions over the last two weeks have sparked public outcry and prompted protests, I have to say, there is something happening that is giving me reassurance and hope: I see citizens coming together to fight for what they believe is right. People, young and not-so-young, are becoming activists, many for the first time in their lives, and communities are uniting across cultural and class boundaries to say, “We won’t stand for this.” So thank you, President Trump. Your actions are reminding me that we still have the freedom and responsibility to speak out and to stand up; and that is what being an American is all about.
In this new reality, there is still much uncertainty about how Trump’s administration is going to directly affect the Colorado Plateau. However, if his Keystone Pipeline executive order, his stance on climate change, his attempts to stifle the voices of the National Park Service, or his lack of concern for social justice are indications of what’s to come, it is certain that public lands and communities of the Colorado Plateau will be impacted. Republican, Democrat, or otherwise, if you care about these places, the plateau needs you now more than ever. As our volunteers and advocates know, there will be no shortage of opportunities to act, and we will be calling on you.
In times like these, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do. Here are some places to start:
It’s going to be a long road, but with your help, we will continue to fight the good fight!