When I first started canvassing for Bark back in the Spring of 2013, I knew next to nothing about National Forests. At the time, Bark was engaged in a legal battle to stop the state from transferring water rights from a fish hatchery outside Cascade Locks to the town to enable Nestlé Waters of North America to bottle mountain spring water for their Arrowhead brand. I got involved, like many, because of my concerns about the future water security of this region. Back then, almost no one had heard of the project—but by the time Kate Brown cancelled the transfer of water rights in 2017, virtually every person to whom I talked opposed the project. That type of change can happen when you have tens of thousands of conversations with people about one issue. That’s one thing I have always loved, and still love, about the act of knocking on doors to talk to strangers about our shared concerns. Since then, I’ve come to understand much more about National Forests, and the more I learned, the more impassioned I became as an advocate against the antiquated priorities that oversee their management: logging for “forest health”, logging for “fire management”, or logging as “restoration”. “Temporary” roads that never seem to disappear. All propped up by the legacy of an economic era of timber dominance in the Northwest that has long since disintegrated. By this same token, this legacy was and is propped up by a history of white supremacy and Indigenous disenfranchisement. The colonization of this region walked hand-in-hand with the rise of the lumberjack, the fur trapper, and even the “naturalist” who viewed these lands as pristine temples to God’s perfect vision—all united by their view of the forest as something separate from them, created for their enjoyment or profit.
Why do these legacies continue when hundreds of thousands of people throughout this region want change?
The powerful inertia of a system that will continue operating in the same, destructive manner until it encounters a strong enough obstacle to upend its forward momentum. Over the last year, more and more of my conversations with members of the public have been about this system, the inertia that carries it forward, and the kind of long-term movement building that will be necessary to collectively become that obstacle needed to change its course. I tell people that it may seem like nothing will ever change until suddenly we hit a breaking point and then everything does.
It starts with believing the change is possible and it continues with still believing it no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary.
I am moving on from my position as the Outreach Director at Bark, but it won’t stop me from talking about this broken system and the toxic history and ideas that underpin it. Bark’s staff are just a handful of people, but if every person reading this email talked to only two other people about Bark’s work… well, that’s exactly how we can all help build the momentum necessary to turn the tide of inertia.
I am also proud to continue supporting Bark by giving a $15/month donation. Thousands of monthly donors like myself are what allow Bark to dedicate resources to building long-term change through the kind of awareness raising, public education, and inspiration that Bark’s staff participate in every day. If you, like me, understand the value of that work, consider joining me in offering your sustaining support by becoming a monthly donor today. Together we can stop the blind lumbering of history and create a new future for ourselves and the forests that allow us to thrive.