High Summer & Highways – Solar Power in Action

Solar Highways


It’s hot.  It’s summer.

Weather in the world has been, as we all know, weird.  Some people continue to spin this weirdness as normal, of no concern — circumstances that require no response on the part of the humans who live it.

My friends Jon Waterhouse and Mary Marshall spend a good deal of time with indigenous people who live climactic weirdness.  The Elders among them have been noting alarming changes in the behavior of animals and fish for a long time.  In the arctic regions of the Yukon River Basin, these Elders have been trying formally to get these empirically-based concerns in front of federal governments for 70 years.

Jon and Mary work in support of these efforts.  Jon (S’Klallam, Chippewa, Cree and Scottish)  is the executive director of the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council (YRITWC), the NGO formed by 70 Tribes and First Nations living in the Yukon River Basin and dedicated to the protection and preservation of that watershed.  Last summer, I had the opportunity to be at a Summit called by these nations.

The Summit was held north of the arctic circle in Mayo, Yukon Territories with the purpose of adopting rigorous water quality standards in support of the River’s vast conveyance of fresh water to that part of the globe.  On a day that reached 102 degrees, setting a disturbing new record for extreme temperature, the leadership of these 70 diverse communities came to agreement.  Their negotiated governance, both inspiring and instructive, rendered water quality policy the Council is now asserting with the state, provincial and federal governments of the U.S. and Canada, Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon Territories.

All around these inter-governmental discussions, and certainly since August of 2013, Jon and Mary have represented the Council’s interests and concerns.  In that process, they have had multiple occasions to meet and greet U.S. President, Barack Obama.  That is for sure a great distinction, but as agents of the decisions reached by the 70 Tribes of the YRITWC, they’ve also been spending loads of time with other  leaders.  Like Sally Jewel, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, executives of the U. S. National Science Foundation, vice presidents of National Geographic, President Sirleaf of Liberia, and scientific and indigenous leaders of Peru, Botswana, Russia, Sudan, Tanzania, China.

So, what’s the link to weather?  What’s the link to the sun?

Of course there’s the obvious interdependence we learn about in elementary school — no water, no life; no sun, no rain, no life; no life, no people, no industry or government — stuff like that.  What I know of Jon and Mary’s work and of the initiatives of the nations along the Yukon River is that the challenges of climate change, ongoing pollution of water and air, and the restrictions to environment AND commerce with global oil dependence demand the activism of human beings.  The leaders of the Yukon River show us how to proceed.

That’s why I paid close attention when Jon posted this video on his facebook page this week, the one describing the technology and promise of  Solar Highways.  Watch this video.  Watch how possible it is for us to use our ingenuity and coordination of effort to put development toward clean air, clean water and strong economy.

I really isn’t about environment OR development – it’s about health and well being that is dependent on water, air, land and good relationship.  Plenty of Elders across the planet speak the wisdom they received from their ancestors – wisdom they don’t accept just because it’s said, but because they observe its truth again and again – healthy communities (economy, policy, etc.) arise from healthy environments and environmental stewardship arises from healthy community.

Solar Freaking Roadways” are an expression of both, seems to me.  You check it out for yourself.  Let me know what your ‘inner leader’ has to say about high summer and highways.

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