Wallowas by Sean Gutierrez
Where did you spend your childhood?
I was raised in southern Vermont on an old farm my mom bought when she fled the suburbs. My earliest memories are visceral: building hideouts in an old stone wall, stirring mud pies, drinking cold maple sap. Vermont’s culture and economy still fascinates me. Everyone there is pulling together a living. It’s not all romantic, a lot of families are struggling. But there’s a shared sense of togetherness, even among reticent people.
Describe your perfect day
That changes with the season. Right now, I’m waiting for the rains to come and chanterelle hunting to begin in the woods. In the winter, we love to ski. In summer, the sprint is on: road trips, lake swims, backpacks, family visits and music festivals. I love each of the seasons, but it helps have more daylight, because we like to pack a lot in.
Favorite place in the Pacific Northwest?
Copper Mountain Lookout in the North Cascades. I don’t know how a place can be at once so wild and so welcoming, but I love standing at that lookout and wondering. I’ve been fortunate to walk through a lot of mountains and this spot still has a special hold on me.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished There, There by Tommy Orange. I tore through it because I wanted to find out what happens to the characters. Now I have to reread it to take full measure of the poetry in the writing. I usually have a poetry book going too, right now it’s Collected Poems by Galway Kinnell, which is a beauty.
Soft serve ice cream is definitely on the list. I’m usually choosy about dairy, but after a hot day hiking in Opal Creek, don’t get between me and the ice cream window at the Gingerbread House!
What is Ecotrust’s secret sauce?
That’s an easy one — our people. Being new, I’ve had the excuse to sit down with a lot of people in this organization and learn about their work. My colleagues are people with deep subject area expertise who have managed to maintain an ability to see their work in context that includes nature politics, history, and culture. And people don’t lose sight of how their work connects to the big picture vision of what we believe our region and our world can become. This kind of perspective is a tall order for people who have inboxes, calendars, and Basecamps all bursting at the seams, but it’s true across the board.
You’ve been on the job a month now. What do you like the most so far?
It feels really good to come to work at the Natural Capital Center. It’s a beautiful space, but beyond that, there’s an intense, positive energy here. I think that energy comes from working on big issues. Climate solutions, greater equity, deeper connections to each other and our land — these are things I care about deeply. Now I get to work on them every day and that’s pretty cool.