ASPEN TIMES 11-2-14 Letter: Our Voices Matter

Nov 2, 2014

Letter: Our voices matter

Calling all wilderness lovers. The midterm elections have approached quickly, and so does our opportunity to exercise our right to vote. The importance of voting recently became clear during EcoFlight’s annual Flight Across America, where I had the opportunity to meet many of the most famous wilderness warriors. Wilderness warriors devote themselves to the protection of our country’s last remaining wild places. The wilderness warrior lies within each and every one of us. By sharing their conservation success stories, these wilderness warriors showed me the value of participating in our country’s democracy and engaging in politics. No longer will I watch while environmental or social injustice goes on around me.

EcoFlight’s Flight Across America program educates students by giving them the aerial perspective. We flew over proposed and existing wilderness and wild lands in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. The aerial perspective informed conversations on the ground with various wilderness advocates including Ed Zahniser (son of Howard Zahniser, author of the 1964 Wilderness Act) and Connie Harvey, (co-founder of the Wilderness Workshop) who helped establish approximately 500,000 acres of wilderness in the White River National Forest.

Zahniser, Harvey and multiple other diverse stakeholders we met demonstrated that wilderness warriors have no special credentials, only a love for wild lands. They helped me to recognize that not only does my voice matter, it is essential in creating change. Now, I am using my voice to remind you that your voice matters, too.

Vote in the upcoming election today, talk to your city government about changes you envision, have conversations with friends and family about current issues. Whatever you do, do not sit back and watch while democracy goes on without you.

Jessie Dunlop