Two years ago, in late summer 2019, we reached out to you to share our excitement about our then-approaching 50th birthday, which SEACC would celebrate at the beginning of 2020. We had big, big plans for that celebration — a launch event in Juneau with some of our most long-term donors; a celebration in Seattle at our board member’s home, with all the food and drink trimmings that would warm the hearts of those Outside, who still forever remain part of Southeast Alaska’s far-flung family tree; smaller events and celebrations in several Southeast Alaskan communities, which were planned to begin in Haines in May of 2020; and one big, fun, joyful, celebratory bash here in Juneau, to give us all the opportunity to reconnect, to hug, to share food and drink, to reminisce, and to plan for the future, together. It was going to be epic.
And here is where I am not going to use the phrase “unprecedented times.”
We all know what happened next. We squeezed in that first smaller launch party in Juneau, we celebrated our future together in Seattle in November, and we canceled all of the community celebrations and visits that were to follow. But we held on, determinedly, to our plan to host an epic 50th — now described as a 50ish — once we made it through the pandemic, once it felt safe to embrace, to laugh together indoors, and to sweat it out on the dance floor together. We rescheduled that extravaganza twice, and, most recently, our staff has worked their butts off to plan a fitting celebration this fall that would be held largely outdoors, safely (we hoped).
But today I am unfortunately writing to you to share that after careful consideration and waiting as long as possible to make this difficult decision, we’re canceling our rescheduled 50ish celebration, previously set for September 25 of 2021, without a reschedule date, at this time.
The pandemic, and the Trump years that preceded it, felt like they took a lot away from us. They made it harder to celebrate. They made it harder to feel joy and to relax and trust that with or without our action, the places we love will be there in the future, for those who follow us to know and experience the same way. This has made it an especially tough time to cancel a party that was meant to be a celebration of having triumphed and finally caught our collective breath, for a minute.
But there are and have been silver linings, too.
The time we are traveling through now has taught us and will continue to teach us, how precious our relationships with one another, and with this incredible place, are. How much our lives are enriched by fighting for the places we love, together, and how powerful we are when we truly come together, as Tribal leaders, citizens, municipalities, industries, and organizations, to advocate and fight for the things and places we love, instead of allowing ourselves to be divided and diminished by petty differences, ignorance, or fear. Heck, we made it through Trump, together, and we will make it through this pandemic, together (while 6 feet apart!), yet.
And then, we will party. I just can’t tell you when, yet.
What I would have shared with you in my own comments at our 50th celebration is how important I think it is for us to rejoice in this milestone. What a big deal it is for determined, grassroots little groups of citizens worried about their forest to come together to become a council, and grow into a stable regional conservation nonprofit, with a strong bench of whip-smart, determined, savvy staff, and a terrific, thoughtful, careful, intentional board. How proud I am to get to serve this organization at this time. How grateful the staff, board, and I are for each one of you, and what you have done, yourself, to make this organization the powerful engine for Southeast that it is today.
So maybe one night, on a beautiful early fall evening in Southeast, as the coho return and the mushrooms beckon, as we teach new family members and share knowledge with our friends about our fish, our waters, and our forests, you can crank up the stereo and bop around your house a little, for us. Make some fun little snacks, put on your Southeast Alaskan best (so yes, your Xtratufs, please), and throw your own celebration of this powerful little organization that we all worked to build, together. Give thanks to our Indigenous leaders, and partners, reminisce about the old days and scheme about what’s yet to come. But mostly, make sure to revel in that joy, for a minute. You earned it.
We’ll see you soon (but not in Juneau on September 25),
Meredith and The SEACC Team