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Inian Online Journal

Alumni and WOOFer: A Transformative Experience by Malcolm McCann

At the end of June last summer in a downtown Portland library, my friend Alex, turned to me, excited. He whispered “check this out!” and handed me his phone which displayed the flyer for the Summer 2019 Environmental Rhetoric course. We were driving up the coast from Southern California to Alaska and looking for interesting opportunities to engage, and this course looked like a fantastic one. We signed up.

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Sailboat Living: A Lesson in “Where it Comes From, and Where it Goes”

My name is Elizabeth. I am a mechanical engineer, a San Francisco Bay Area resident, and the secretary of Inian’s Board of Directors. I also live on a sailboat.

I’ll admit that the decision to move aboard was riddled with youthful exuberance and minimal knowledge of exactly what I was signing on for, aside from the vague sense that it would be both a challenging adventure and a learning opportunity. I remember distinctly that sailing the boat out of the slip at her previous marina, my first short voyage on the vessel, felt mildly illegal – it seemed like there should be rules against a 23 year old kid writing a check to a Craigslist seller and literally sailing into the sunset on her new prize. I had unwittingly discovered a vestige of true freedom to craft my lifestyle to my liking, and at least for the moment it tasted wonderfully sweet. Read more

The Hobbit Hole: An Oral History

Inian welcomes guest writer Regina Kong, Stanford undergraduate student intern of 2019. Regina was tasked with recording an oral history of the “Hobbit Hole.” The “Hobbit Hole” is an affectionate name used to describe the 5-acre parcel upon which Inian Islands Institute makes its home. 

The summer I spent at the Hobbit Hole feels as if it were a dream. The previous December, I emailed Zach asking if he needed an intern. I was halfway through my freshman year and beginning to think deeply about what a true education meant and what forms of wisdom could be attained outside of the traditional classroom—questions that I discovered resonated with Inian’s own mission. I hold a life-long love for storytelling, and Zach proposed that I work on an oral history of the Hobbit Hole, something Inian had wanted to do for a while. At Stanford, I had worked with audio narratives but never oral histories. This project, in weaving together themes of history, ecology, anthropology, and above all human connection, seemed absolutely made for me. Read more

“Tall Trees in Cold Seas: Sampling Period 3”

And just like that, summer is over. High latitude season shifts are pronounced and fierce; southeast Alaska is no different. Photosynthetic organisms rely on the heavy summer sunlight period to maximize their growth potential, soaking up as much energy as possible while the opportunity lasts. From March to August, plant-like life in southeast Alaska’s nearshore shallow seas undergoes a shocking change. Read more

Nueva School Guest Writer Ina Lalic

We welcome guest writer Ina Lalic, a participant in Nueva School’s junior year American Studies capstone course at Inian Islands Institute.

My time at the Inian Islands Institute will go down in my mind as one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken. From the first foot we set at the Hobbit Hole, our whole group was slack-jawed with the stunning physical beauty of Southeast Alaska. A group of lucky kids who have seen wonders in Peru, France and Cambodia were all silenced by the beauty within their home country. We were welcomed at the Institute by the open arms of Lexie, her daughter Jordan, Colter, and their WWOOFer Emily. From the beginning to the very end of our time with them, they did their utmost to make us feel warm, included, welcome, and well-fed.

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Scientist in Residence: Alyssa Adler

From the time I was a young girl, all I wanted was to play outside. I used the ferns in my childhood backyard to hoist myself up muddy Pacific Northwest slopes, sat by the edge of the property’s wooded creek and imagined it was a roaring river. Read more

The Start of an Adventure

When I found out that I would be spending my summer at Inian Islands Institute as an intern, I was not at all sure what to expect.

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From Inian’s Board President

My approach to life is to “just say yes” to opportunities to grow, learn and/or help make this place a better world. This approach has led to me becoming President of the Inian Islands Institute Board of Directors in June of this year.  Here’s how I got there. Read more

Bottomless Halibut and the Art of Persuasion

Five sun rises and six sun sets went by in the in the blink of an eye.

The 2018 Environmental Rhetoric course brought together 12 students, of all ages, from all walks of life. The unifying factor? A deep love and fierce passion to protect the natural spaces of our world.

The course was based around the book Across the Shaman’s River, and taught by the author, Dan Henry. For six days, we discussed the themes of the book that centered around John Muir, Wilderness, Indigenous people of the region, and above all, rhetoric. The art of using all available means to persuade.

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Back to Alaska

Lexie Hayes, one of our very first Homesteading Residents, recounts how she and her family — partner Colter, and daughter Jordan — changed everything to return education in Alaska… this time, in the Wilderness. 

It was one of those rare mornings when I woke up before Colter and was laying in bed, bored out of my mind, but not wanting to get up and wake him, too. So I did what any city-dweller would (we were in Lewiston, Idaho at the time…) Read more