Last Frontiering

By | November 1, 2011

Lety and I just returned from a trip to Alaska, or I should say “almost Alaska.” With its well-kept suburban neighborhoods and typical fast food joints, Anchorage could easily pass for a city in the lower 48. Our hosts were ready with a response: Anchorage is just 15 minutes from Alaska.  Sure enough—right outside of town and we were in the bush.

We were there to take part in the eighth annual Bioneers in Alaska Convention. I think what impressed them most about our contribution was Lety’s gymnastics. During my keynote, I asked Lety to come up on stage and demonstrate bow-and-drill fire making. You’d expect someone—especially a silver-haired woman in a long skirt—to sidle out to the aisle and up the stage’s side steps. But not Lety. She nearly got a round of applause after she hopped over two rows of theater seats and right up onto the chest-high stage (she can do 100 push-ups, by the way, so think twice before messing with her).

The next morning in the convention hall lobby, some children tied a couple of long scarves together for an impromptu jump roping. We walked by and Lety joined in. All heads turned again to catch this elder woman in a long skirt, this time doing fancy double-jumps, spins, and dips. The theme of the convention was resilience,adapting to a changing planet, and Lety certainly showed by example how resilient one can be.

What impressed me most about the conference was the spirit that permeated everything. Here in the lower 48 we have a plethora of conferences, workshops, and rendezvous events of various sorts to choose from, and many of us attend several a year. We may leave one event inspired, but we’re soon on to something else. Not so in Alaska, where the Bioneers event is all there is. Alternatively oriented people of all persuasions come together to network and share ideas, and the inspiration they gain from the event sustains them for the entire year. It feels like a gathering of the clans—people from many regions of Alaska come to participate, and there is a feeling of true camaraderie, with very little wrangling over philosophical differences. We’re looking forward to going back next year.

Lety was asked to give the conference’s closing words, and here is an excerpt that so-well sums up our experience: “I feel really honored and blessed to have spent this time with you. I know that we are never apart—we are always together—and I will always remember you, your beautiful smiles. Let’s stay connected and create that community we envisioned amongst ourselves. We can do it because we become what we surround ourselves with, and the more that we encircle ourselves with people who are living in balance, whether they are  leafed or furred or two-legged or four-legged, the more our light will shine, the more our vision will grow.”

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