I went to go visit Penny, she’s the orator in charge of creating a Podcast about the necessity of salmon, the potential devastating effects of the pending pebble mine, and the magic of the region in general. My reason being there; I went to see if Penny’s project was the right one to receive donations from BitterRoots. I found way more than I bargained for. While I knew about the doom of the pebble mine and the glory of the salmon here I’d never felt it. Through her passion I was able to get a feel for what we are talking about.
Meeting Penny there are times you would think she’s ignoring you but the more you hang with her the more you understand she is just lost in the mad infuriating mission of proving a boiling point. Lost in her genius, playing over and over again the confessions that paint with their coloquial nuances and inflection. Having listened to these repeatedly you can tell their stories have a special connection to her. She painstaking tries to bring that special element of each voice to the surface by rearranging what’s already been rearranged just to rearrange it. It’s a protracted process but the message has to be clear. It has to resonate with audiences in a way that makes them tremble and aww.
The region, in general, is an ecosystem of epic proportions. In fact people could argue we don’t truly understand the total value of it. It’s scope is truly beyond our understanding. Still what we can say is that it is the backbone of a world in Alaska. And while it may be strong in its power it is delicate in its makeup. Therefore, threats to it like the Pebble Mine, truly represent a pending crisis. When ecosystems fail, ancient economies fail and with peoples way of life.
This urgency and visceral fever lives in any advocate for Salmon in Bristol Bay. It dominates their mental space because they understand its their livelihood at stake. Convincing people to get aboard is sometimes the most difficult task but other times people just need to know it exists and then instantly they become impassioned.
I was reminded of this when meeting Penny. The discussion I walked in on revolved around the sound track that would play along with each voice. The decision was made to make it as organic as possible but after listening to some music online she wanted something more. It didn’t take long for Tyler, a gent helping her with music, to call up a local friend and an excellent musician. All Tyler had to do was explain the projects focus and nothing more needed to be said. Carley, the musician, knows what Tyler and Penny know. Being apart of this project or any other like it is an opportunity to be apart of the fight. After coordinating the logistics we all decided to meet up. And like that the soundtrack began to unfold.
Watching everyone bond with each voice and translate it into musical sentences was a collaboration I was glad to witness. It was more than just laying down some basic noises. It was about highlighting those voices with noises that were already there. Penny just needed a musician to hear it. Watching everyone’s passion brainstorming reminded me that the good fight is full of wholesome, frustrated, damn near altruistic humans. There was a moment of optimism that realization brought me; No matter the size of the giants we find ourselves pitted against at least we know the trenches will be filled with music and courage.
Penny used what she had to create an important note on the musical sheet that is the battle cry of everyone fighting for the environment. Listen to her podcast at the premier tonight. It’s going to be at a little crowded joint known as the Stowaway. It’s a cafe covered in signs yelling “Save Salmon.” Starts at 6pm. Otherwise, tune into to get the link! In the meantime #StayPensive!