Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A thank you letter.

I just finished reading Bill McKibben's latest book, "Oil and Honey, The Education of An Unlikely Activist." 

Relevant links:

Instead of a book report or book review, I'll just share this letter of gratitude I emailed moments ago.  

Hi Bill,

 Just minutes ago I finished reading your book, "Oil and Honey".  I found it in the library yesterday where I had stopped on my way to go stuff envelopes for a local organization that advocates and fights for the preservation of wilderness.  The group of volunteers gathered there to help had discussions with topics ranging from how best to protect the wilderness next to our little town (and our food, water, and air shed) from the specter of fracking, to how best to have an impact on climate change.  Direct action was discussed -- the organization we were volunteering for has shied away from it for now.  I brought up the subject of the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that corporations are not people and money is not speech and was quickly shot down by a man who thought himself wiser and savvier than I, with this missive, "It's impossible to amend the Constitution with our country so divided.  The red states will never let it happen."  He didn't say that he didn't think it should happen, just that he was sure it was impossible.  It knocked the wind out of me, briefly.  

After the envelope stuffing I came home and dived into your book.  Having finished it up this morning, I felt compelled to thank you for sharing your experience.  I've read most of your books over the years as well as books by most of the authors you mentioned in, "Oil and Honey".  I've read most of Terry Tempest Williams' work and followed Tim DeChristopher's story and Josh Fox's.  I've written letters and called my elected representatives and had uncomfortable conversations with family, friends, and strangers.  I knocked on doors for Obama in 2008 and didn't in 2012.  I was watching via the internet during those D.C. protests you organized.  I've wobbled between just trying to do my part to live slowly and intentionally and trying to be involved in this massive fight in a way that is sustainable for my own mental health.  "Oil and Honey" touched me.  

Thank you for sharing the bees and the quiet, the urgency and the tiredness, the deep sadness and the renewed resolve.  

This past summer I attended a direct action training camp in the desert of Utah partially sponsored by Peaceful Uprising which was the lead up to an action to stop oil sands development in eastern Utah.  I came away with a tremendous amount to digest.

I live on a mountainside about an hour's drive from Aspen, Colorado.  The nearest town to my home is Carbondale, a vibrant, spunky, organic, educated, locavore, clean-energy using, bicycle happy bubble of goodness in the world.  In April of this year, I resigned from an 18 year career as a 9-1-1 emergency call-taker and dispatcher mostly because I felt like there were bigger and badder emergencies in the world that needed my attention more than the ones I was answering calls about at work.  So now I am a 42 year old freshman at Colorado Mountain College with the intention of perhaps getting a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sustainability Studies.   

Last week, in my Intro to Environmental Science class, we had a debate about whether anthropogenic climate change is even real.  It was terribly disheartening to me that some folks in the class really, really don't believe that human actions have changed the climate or that we can do anything to mitigate the further warming of our precious planet.  

I continue to ride alternating waves of despair, confusion, hope, optimism, resolve, and gratitude.  

Right now, I am deeply thankful for your most recent book and the so important work that you are doing and I am deeply grateful to the unsung climate heroes all around the world who are surely riding those waves as well.  

Thank you.

~Dawn Dexter
Carbondale, Colorado


  1. Update:

    I got any actual reply from Bill McKibben within an hour of sending my email.

    "Dawn, this letter made my day, cheered me up when I needed it. Thanks so much for your good work!

    Sent from my iPhone"


  2. Beautiful Dawn. I bet this really did lift him up.

  3. Thanks. You've lifted me up so many times. <3

  4. Nice!! (this is Jennifer Edwards)