I grew up in coal country USA, the heart of Appalachia, eastern Kentucky. An oil refinery, a coke plant, and a steel mill were all within a fifteen-minute drive from my elementary school. Each of my fellow classmates had their own nickname for these colossal structures that dominated my hometown horizon: the Big Hot, Mordor, Hell, and the Cloud Factory are a few of the names that I remember.
My childhood home was even closer. At night, the whistles of train after train carrying coal from West Virginia would howl, its cars rumbling down the tracks singing me to sleep. It took me a long time to realize that the song it was singing wasn’t a song at all; it was the alarm of my recess air filling with chemicals, my drinking water being polluted, and the mountain scenery of my region disappearing from the top down.
In 2013, I moved from my home, away from my loving and supportive friends and family, and landed in Seattle. I still grapple with this decision, but I stay because I found a connection to a place and people who shared my core values of acceptance, environmental responsibility, and social justice. I stay here because I’ve found a community within Cascadia, within Sightline Institute, within you.
Sightline stands for strong communities. When you navigate to our About Us page, you will notice that Community is the first among the values listed: “We are all in this place together, sharing its burdens and benefits, rising or falling together.” After last week’s US election, if you feel as I do, you feel that we’ve fallen—and we’ve fallen far. But now for those of us in Cascadia, both in the Northwest states and in British Columbia, it’s time to rise together. At Sightline, we are going to fight to protect the values, people, and places of the Northwest.
We will continue making our region a global model of sustainability no matter the obstacles that lie ahead.
From day one, Sightline has been a community supported think tank, equipping decision makers with the policy research and practical tools they need to advance long term solutions to our region’s most significant challenges. We will continue to speak up for our values and apply ourselves with energy and intelligence to our mission. We will continue working toward a clean energy economy, putting a price on carbon, and fighting oil, coal, and gas projects. We will continue reclaiming our democracy. We will continue building cities that are walkable and affordable for all. We will continue making our region a global model of sustainability no matter the obstacles that lie ahead.
We will do it fiercely. We will do it lovingly. We will even have fun, laughter, and joy along the way.
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Today marks the beginning of our Fall Fund Drive and at a time when our work will be even harder than anticipated, we need your support more than ever. With your help, we will make the Northwest a global model of sustainability. If you’re a reader or subscriber, please consider making your first donation today in honor of our shared values. If you’re a donor, please consider increasing your investment in our collective work.
Sightline will be here to rise up to the challenges to come in the next four years and beyond—thanks for being with us every step of the way.