The weight of Alaska's issues, national issues, and global issues can often seem overwhelming to those committed to change them, especially when generational and cultural differences create divides that further distance citizens from one another.
Today, Brian and I were privileged to participate in Institute of the North's Emerging Leaders Dialogue conference, attended by a group of nearly 100 emerging leaders in various fields within Alaska such as economic development, resource conservation, resource development, educational administration and development, community organizing and planning, arts, forestry, and legislation, where we met for and presented lectures regarding new innovative ways to encourage positive growth in Alaska. We focused on ways in which we can often operate as islands, in the sense that we, as Alaskans, are all islanded from the rest of our country, as well as addressing the islands we create within our own communities, and we discussed ways that we can bridge these "islands" to come to resolutions that will work for the greater good while still benefiting independent entities. "Cooperatition" is a term that was thrown out into the crowd by one of the attendees, and it's on point; in a room filled with artists, educators, policy-makers, economic developers, and conservationists along with proponents of Pebble Mine and oil, this is exactly what we, as emerging leaders, need to think about: how can we work together for the greater good while seeking to grow our individual industries?
All photos 2010 © Brian Adams
For our part, Brian and I presented a body of work from our project this spring in Shishmaref, an island in Northwest Alaska currently undergoing climate change-induced global erosion.
To read more about the project, you can read several articles posted on Tundra Telegraph and the Alaska Dispatch: