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Rachel's Story

Section 1: My Earth Camp Commitment

Before I went to Earth Camp and spent ten days studying human impact on the natural world and its resources, I’d thought my personal impact was relatively small; however, since listening to and learning from Earth Camp counselors, guest speakers, and my peers I’ve realized that there is so much I could be doing that I’m not to reduce my ecological footprint and live a sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability is my biggest goal, and through this program I’ve found a multitude of ways I can increase it: water conservancy, decreasing food miles & waste and educating my family, fellow students and community about environmental issues and what they can do to have a positive impact. The biggest inspiration for affecting these changes in my life was listening to Howard Smith speak in Canyon de Chelly. He spoke about the relationship between ourselves and our environments. After contemplating the things he told us, I discovered a desire in myself to share the things I’ve learned with people who do not share the same experiences or information. Teaching people in my school and community about environmental issues and solutions is my ultimate commitment, but I also intend to adjust my own life by growing my own vegetables, not eating meat, reducing my water use by taking shorter showers & harvesting rainwater and starting a composting system at my house.

Section 2: Journal Entry (July 16, Day 9)

Glen Canyon Dam and the Grand Canyon

We drive from Moab, Utah to Page Arizona; through rolling desert landscape coupled with natural red-stone monuments rising out of the rocky alkaline dirt. We come to a benign enough looking visitors’ center complete with a wide swatch of turf grass, a couple shade trees and friendly fountain. Only after being told of all the things we couldn’t  bring in did I stop appreciating familiar green carpeting and realize the serious nature in which the Department of Reclamation undertakes tours of the Glen Canyon Dam. Guides educated in the art of answering  questions with statistics and comparisons between then and ‘now-a-days’ lead us through the underbelly of a concrete behemoth built to sustain commercial agriculture and electricity in the arid southwest. We fly up and down elevators hundreds of feet high, listening to endless facts regarding construction, flow rates, kilowatts of hydroelectric power.

After our tour, we read Judy Maben’s elegant description of the Hoover Dam, a “sliver of a thumbnail”, a piece ripe with appreciation and respect. Edward Abbey’s harsh criticism of Glen Canyon bites back, but as would any argument written by a monkey-wrencher; proponent of eco-terrorism. Abbey’s view resonates with me: who are we mere humans to guiltlessly build colossal monuments to justify our own greed? But the world is full of absurdities, and these structures are of the most paradoxical nature.

Skip ahead to the evening: our arrival at the Grand Canyon: another behemoth that sees thousands of people a year (but this one carved by wind and rain, not poured of sand and cement). Seeing it for the first time, awe catches in my throat and I wonder at the span of the icon of the west, a place my parents visited 20 years ago that has remained virtually unchanged for eons. I question why anyone would want to fill this place up to create a reservoir for municipal water – a veritable bathtub.

Both the Glen Canyon Dam and the Grand Canyon exist the way they do because of human intervention: we control nature at Glen Canyon but the Grand Canyon remains virtually untouched. Opinions of conservation and reclamation are widely varied and fight conflict in all realms of government. I question how we’ll be able to align these opinions to be able to lead for a shared planet.

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