A letter to my kids (07.04.17)

Dear kids,

It’s the 4th of July which has me thinking about all kinds of things. Especially this year. There is a lot going on in our country right now that reveal questions about what democracy means and what role our government has and should have. It’s an interesting time to be an American. One of the questions I’m thinking about today is:

What is America if we don’t actually take care of the land under our feet?

What does it mean that we’re pumping chemicals into the ground in order to extract fossil fuels? Who are we if we pollute our rivers and cut down our forests? What are the implications of an extractive economy to our health, economy, and future?

In 1983 author Wallace Stegner said, “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” I love national parks, and the idea of public lands in general. In many other countries and in many times past, you had to be rich or of the monarchy to access beautiful gardens and parks. That’s not true here, at least not in principal and law. National parks and public lands aren’t perfect, but the idea of them is. Just like our country is a work in progress — ‘a more perfect union’ — the ideals of national parks and public lands in America are something we need to work towards.

Kids, I want you to know that this is important to me. I care that the land under our feet, and under the feet of all Americans and first nations, is respected, stewarded, protected, nurtured, loved, and appreciated. As California Coastal Commission Director Peter Douglas said:

“The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.”

Taking care of the land is an ongoing effort, and I am committed to that effort.

You know what else the 4th of July makes me think of? Spending time with you eating BBQ, corn on the cob, and pie. Tonight we’ll go find a spot to watch the fireworks, but only if Karl the Fog isn’t in our way.

I love you,


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