Thursday, March 9, 2017

An Open Letter to Utah Representatives

Escalante
A few months ago in my American Heritage class (yes, I had to take American Heritage to be a nurse.....who knew!) we had an assignment to write a letter to one of our representatives about a current issue. Normally this would have been an assignment I rushed through with no thought or energy--just hurried to get it done. But that was the week that our Utah officials met with the Trump Administration to discuss shrinking down the Escalante National Monument (along with dissolving the newly created Bears Ears Monument), making the land vulnerable for corporate interest. While I am usually not a political person, this is a topic that has literally left me feeling sick to my stomach. I feel so strongly about public lands and the protection of these sacred spaces, so the thought of politicians who are willing to trade our land for dollars, is something that keeps me up at night. 

I was recently talking to a friend about using our platforms for good. For the most part, social media is pretty superficial and narcissistic, but if we can occasionally use it to share a positive message or stand up for something we care about, let's do! My platform is small, I realize, but at least it's a platform, right? I rarely get over here to the blog anymore, but when I do, it's always funny to me when I look back at how it's morphed over the years. From babies, to cupcakes, to our adventures--it's easy to see what phase of life I was in and what my passions were at that time. And as much as I love looking back at the records I've kept, I feel that now--in this season of my life--I'm not using this space to keep a record, but more to raise my voice about things that I find important, and want to share with my small audience.

I encourage you to share this message--whether using some of my words or your own, let's get it out there. The sand and the rock and the rivers have no voice, let's speak up for them. 

Here is my letter.
Escalante

Dear Governor Herbert, Senator Hatch, Senator Lee, Congressman Bishop and Congressman Chaffetz.


My name is Sheena Jibson, and I live in the mountains of Utah with my husband, two children, and a few too many animals. I'm reaching out to you today because you are my elected representatives, but I don't feel like you are currently representing what I stand for. Many people I know feel the same way, so I hope you listen--listen to the people you are supposed to be the voice for; let me explain. Our family enjoys spending as much time as we can outside, and we find ourselves down in Escalante a couple times a year, soaking in the desert sunshine and finding peace from a fast and furious world. 

I want to describe for you some of the things you may see down in this area, as I’m guessing you haven’t ventured very far out of the comfort of your air conditioned car. I’m assuming you have at least driven on Highway 12—one of the most scenic roads in the country—wouldn’t you agree? Mounds of red and white sandstone, stretched out as far as the eye can see; it’s otherworldly. Have you dipped your toes in Calf Creek? Felt the contrast of the icy cold water against your desert parched skin? Have you hiked down the creek to where the water spills over the rocks from the sky above? Have you heard it? Felt the spray on your face?

Representatives, have you driven down Hole in the Rock Road? Have you climbed into the cracks of the earth and crawled into corners of the world that sunlight will never reach? Have you stood on high ground while a desert thunderstorm rolled through and filled these cracks with raging waters? It’s equally terrifying, and exhilarating. Have you then watched as the thirsty earth drank up every last drop of rain in just minutes?  

Have you traced the footsteps of the pioneers that founded this great state and stood where they stood on Dance Hall Rock? Tried to imagine their joys, sorrows, celebrations, and pain as they gathered with their families in this God-created amphitheater? Have you stood beneath the walls that have a history written in pictures from those who walked the earth hundreds of years ago? Have you felt the sacredness, and peacefulness of their ancient burial grounds that you step lightly across?

Have you gone to the desert with a worry, a problem, a struggle that haunts your mind, and let the heat, the wind, and the sand strip those worries away and polish you down until your soul is renewed? Have you felt this power of the desert Representatives? Have you?

I’m guessing the answer to all of these questions is NO. No you have not. I know this, because had you experienced any of these things, you would not be trying to unravel the Escalante National Monument. You would recognize the sacredness of this space, and it’s need for protection from those who want to sell off this corner of Utah to the highest bidder, so they can dig and blast, ruin the landscape, and disrupt the peace. 

I encourage you to take a break from your desks and your paperwork, forget for just a moment about the dollar signs that occupy your minds, and take a trip to the desert. Loosen your ties, take off your shoes and let the earth stain your skin red and burn you right down to your soul. Find the peace and  the excitement in the exact same moment that only the desert can offer. 

You can enter the desert with a jumbled mind, and I promise, you will leave a small piece of you buried in the sand, and take with you a clear vision of what is important--protecting this space that is now a part of you. Please try to see that value and worth are sometimes more than monetary wealth.

I appreciate your time, and hope this is an issue you can come to care as deeply about as I do, since you are representing my family.

Sincerely,
Sheena
Escalante


* * * * *


Utah friends! If you feel this way, PLEASE reach out to these men and tell them how you feel. Climb up on my tiny soapbox with me--I will make room!

Governor Herbert
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220
 801-538-1000

@governorherbert

Email Senator Hatch HERE
Email Senator Lee HERE or @senmikelee
Email Congressman Bishop HERE
Email Congressman Chaffetz HERE or reach out to him on IG--he seems to be pretty active on there @jasoninthehouse
Escalante

Escalante
Escalante




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Thank you so much for using your platform for good in this way! Thank you for being brave and putting yourself out there and working toward positive change.

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etta said...

I've been following your blog for years and I've loved seeing the changes..I honestly feel like I've had very similar shifts in my own perspective and life focus. Thank you for always sharing your thoughts and feelings. Being truly vulnerable can be a very scary thing sometimes and I'm grateful you're so brave and can give strength to so many.
Your letter is beautifully written and I pray it reaches their hearts and they make the right decision. You have a gift with words, it couldn't have been described any better. Thank you for sharing this!

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