Why me?!?

© 2010 Joshua Stark
I sometimes ask that question, myself!  In this case, however, I feel comfortable answering it for others; so, then, why should I start a site that confronts environmental and conservation issues of the day, and how do I expect to provide a good, honest and comfortable place where our disparate community voices can come together to talk about our differences, and find solid, working commonalities?

I am new to organized environmental movements, and I do not share a past with many of them, although I share their love for people and the environment.  I grew up in a small town, and I grew up hunting and fishing and loving the outside.

The closest I ever came to being in the environmental movement as a child was that I loved Marlin Perkins, Marty Stouffer, and Ranger Rick.  Olaus Murie and my father taught me how to track, though I had no idea, at the time, that Mr. Murie was so important to environmentalism (much less Mrs. Murie!).

My high school was tiny, and we had no environmental organization affiliates.  I was in Science Club, of course, and I also shot on the rifle team (sadly, now disbanded).  By college, I wanted to study social sciences and religion. 

But, I continued to find myself outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping with family.  I worked 13 Summers in the pear sheds, putting myself through school and then supplementing my teaching income, but still, no environmental affiliations.

During my college years, I made some very personal choices around the food I ate, in particular making the ethical decision to keep hunting and fishing, to understand and reflect upon the sacrifices made for me.  These experiences allowed me to reflect upon our real impacts in the world, to see that we have good and bad impacts, and that there is no possible way to strive for zero impact.  They were also informed by my religion and my family's traditions, but not by any environmental, environmental justice, or conservation group.

Eventually, I figured it out on my own:  I needed to be outside more.  I ran a natural history kayak guide service for too short a time, and then took a job as a park interpreter outside Santa Cruz.  Watching people transformed through their interactions with nature, I knew there was no looking back - I was going to make my profession from environmental advocacy and interpretation. From this revelation of sorts, I began looking for people and groups with shared interests, and it was here that I began my time in the conservation and environmental movement.

So, my experiences have allowed me a foot in each of today's great environmental camps:  Environmental justice, environmentalism, conservationism, and hunting and fishing clubs.  I have studied the political landscapes within which each finds themselves, and I have seen the connections and disagreements each has with the other.  I've also made some startling finds about who could/should connect most cleanly, if not for other political factors.