Intern Job Title: "Using Story-telling and Media for Social Change Organizing" Internship
Location: Sitka, Alaska Description and Goals of Assignment:
The native people who have occupied Southeast Alaska for thousands of years learned to live with the land and the resources the landscape provided. For them, living locally wasn't a trendy thing to do, but was a reality that was dictated by geography, climate, and available resources. Southeast Alaska as a place—the actual landscape—helped to define the culture of the people that lived there. One of the cultural developments that the landscape helped create was the use of story-telling as a method of passing along customs, practices, skills, and ideals from one generation to the next and amongst clans and extended cultural networks and groups. As anthropologist Thomas Thornton notes in his seminal work Being and Place Amongst the Tlingit, "Events, beings, objects, [ideals] and places typically become at.óow(sacred) when they are crystallized as encapsulating images and consecrated through use."
At the Sitka Conservation Society, we have learned from and adopted these story-telling customs as a way to share our conservation ideals and conservation ethic and the story-telling practice continues to be an important part of our Southeast Alaskan landscape. As noted by the Island Institute's Gary Holthus in 2010, "One secret of creating an enduring culture is to choose those healthy stories…" For the Sitka Conservation Society, for the Native People of Sitka, and for the diversity of groups that constitute Sitka and Southeast Alaska, those healthy stories that create an enduring conservation culture are the stories that teach us how we can use and depend on our natural environment while also protecting and preserving that environment. Some of the stories that we tell that exemplify this include:
- The stories of the original activists who stepped up despite all odds to save a part of the landscape that was slated for destruction
- The right way to hunt, fish, trap, and gather resources from the environment to both be successful and to ensure that the resources aren't depleted so that we can provide for the continuity of that resource for future generations
- The story of the lives lived that exemplify community and conservation ideals and service to the community to built and sustain
- The stories of the animals, plants, fungi, and processes of the ecosystem and their interrelatedness and how they work together to create the whole
As part of our work for the Fish, People and Place Campaign on the Tongass in 2013, we will strive to integrate and recreate the native cultural traditions of shagoon, our sense of place and being, across our community and region, using storytelling. We will use stories to both help define and shape who we are as a community and a place; we will also use these stories to tell others who we are, to share the lessons that we have learned, to inspire in others, and to promote a sense of a need to protect and conservation this place and the livelihoods and lifestyles that are unique to the Tongass and Southeast Alaska. We will tell these stories using 21st century media and we will reach new and varied audiences in innovative and effective ways.
- Community Organizing: build relationships and networks amongst community members who use and depend on the natural environment of the Tongass
- Share stories that exemplify our conservation ideals and demonstrate people finding ways to live sustainably within the natural environment of the Tongass and build their communities
- Use diverse media to share our stories and reach diverse audiences (local, regional, state-wide, and national)
Document the ways that the people who live in Southeast Alaska exist in a close relationship with the natural environment that surrounds them. Document the conservation ethic and values that have evolved alongside the lives and livelihoods of people of Southeast Alaska that co-exist in a close relationship with the natural environment. Use photography, audio, video, and media to share these stories and values.
- Spend time with Sitkans and Southeast Alaskans who use and depend on the natural environment including fishermen, tour guides, subsistence gatherers, scientists and researchers, land managers, contractors, etc.
- Use informal interviews to collect and document unique stories and relationships
- Use photography, writing, video, and other media to document stories
- Use innovative media to share stories and ideals with larger audiences
- Use creative and innovative approaches to tell new types of stories that foster increased knowledge and understanding and promote civic and environmental action.
- Ability to effectively work with people of diverse backgrounds
- High level of problem solving ability; high level of ability to work independently; high level of ability to adapt and innovate
- Demonstrated ability to document stories and represent ideals through writing, photography, and/or video
- Knowledge of Southeast Alaska
- Ability to work for extended periods of time in the outdoors, especially in maritime and Wilderness environments; WFR, Leave No Trace training, or Wilderness Leadership experience/certification preferred
- Master Degree level experience in field pertinent to the position
- Demonstrated knowledge and experience in conservation issues and philosophy
This is a paid internship. Amount to be determined by Alaska Conservation Foundation.