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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.

It seems, constantly, that we are in a world quickly classified as “polarized” and “divided.” Throughout the course of the week, we gained the skills and knowledge to combat that narrative with genuine communication. To speak and argue in a valuable, substantial way. To use logic. To convince and persuade. To discuss.

But beyond this discussion, the course took a distinctly experiential direction.

Fourth of July hike; summited at 8:11 a.m.

Fourth of July hike; summited at 8:11 a.m.

The setting was, I think, the most beautiful and place I’ve ever been. There is something magical about mountains that are islands. The best of both worlds, from Fairweather views above the tops of the trees to starfish and sea anemones that dot the shores. It’s a place you could explore top to bottom and not once see another soul save a sea lion. It was irresistible.

I could spend a considerable amount of time trying to communicate the amazing experiences I had, many of which were brand new to me. But by that time, Inian would already have opened and closed its application for next year. (And trust me, you don’t want to miss this course.)

So to summarize: In those six days, here are the things that I’ll remember the most:

  • Learning how to filet a halibut
  • Kayaking with sea lions, many
  • Exploring the rich and fascinating history of the Chilkat and Chilkoot people
  • Hiking to the top of an island mountain at 6:30 AM on the 4th of july
  • Presenting two speeches and participating in four debates
  • Eating like a queen, like a queen
  • Swimming in the sea and soaking in the hot tub
  • Exploring the nuances of gender patterns in speech and rhetoric
  • Getting outsmarted by a seven-year-old
  • Finally (!) wrapping my mind around the tides

But above all, what will stick with me is an image of beauty. Not just the beauty of the mountains and sea, but the beautiful ideas and values we shared, and an elegant kindness from all. I’m very grateful to have been a part of this community, even for just a week.

Fourth of July shenanigans.

Fourth of July shenanigans.

One way or another, I intend to come back.

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