When I went to Churchill last Fall, I knew I was putting a checkmark next to one of my long-held bucket list items. But I really never expected it to be with me, in such profound ways, months later. I recently talked with the researcher who interviewed us while we were at the Northern Studies Center. She asked if I thought about Churchill much now that I was "back home." Not only did I say Yes! but I also came up with a relevant metaphor. I feel like my trip last Fall was like having tea with a new friend. The teatime was great but now I want to go back and have lunch! I feel that way about a few places (e.g., Newfoundland, Scotland) but not everywhere. It's something I've been mulling over.
I've also been mulling over the great privilege it was to give an hour-long talk about our trip to the public last week. Our local library hosted and promoted the event and more than a dozen folks showed up. About half the group were familiar, friendly faces...the other 1/2 were new friends to me. The audience ranged in age from ~12-~80. What a great group to share this with!! It totally made all my performance anxiety worth it!
Since well before the talk, I've been wondering why it's so hard for me to embrace the notion of becoming "the crazy bear lady." I know so much about p'bears and care so much about their survival. Yet, for some reason I can't quite articulate, I've been hesitant to just go public with all this love. So I've been to Churchill...and I volunteer on a web cam for two p'bear facilities via Explore.org
(left: Akiak and Sura at Ouwehand Zoo in Rhenen)
And I docent at the Detroit Zoo with my p'bear buddies Talini and Nuka. I also enjoy the Toledo Zoo's exhibit when I can...or really any other location. I even explicitly go to places so I can check out their bears and facilities (ever hear of Assiniboine? or adjust travel when you're in Oregon so you can see Nora before she leaves?).
But what I would most like to see is no zoo with a bear because all the bears were sustained in their natural environment.
Is that too much to ask?
And I'm confounded by how one person, like myself, can make an appreciable difference. Yes, I know the quote attributed to Margaret Meed ("Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.") It really did inspire me when I was starting up new girls' hockey programs in the area. But on this one?....
And I know I could give money to Polar Bear International or to other like-minded conservation organizations. And I recycle, drive a hybrid, limit my use of water, eat as much of a vegetarian diet as I can. Do I really have to go door-to-door? Or is there another way that my actions can move the needle in a positive direction for this amazing creature (and it's native northern compatriots)?
Stay tuned, dear readers...stay tuned...
Siku, at Scandinavian Wildlife Park (inuit for Sea Ice)