We, the People. We, the Rocks.

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Cairns (rock piles) mark mountain trails in Adirondack Park, NY.

It can be difficult to love rock. Bioerosion, glauconite, miogeosyncline, they aren’t words that inspire. Even cleavage becomes a sigh when it’s all slate and dust.

But build it a backbone, give it a story, and that piece of sandstone that remembers the weight of dinosaurs 150 million years ago—as well as Jenny + Sean 4eva from 2014—suddenly has meaning. We care about it. We’ll protect it.

You’re a part of the story, too.

At some point, known or unknown, you gave a piece of yourself to the wilderness and never asked for it back. While walking through the woods, an elm branch brushed your arm and suddenly a piece of you went missing. You were watching the sun set on your friend’s rooftop, a beer in one hand and your uncertain future in the other, and a part of you flew away and painted itself into the sky. Once, when you stepped into a ray of sunlight, you felt lighter than you did just moments ago.

Empathy is easiest through a window. Backyards, sidewalks, neighborhood pines. It’s easier to care when we see it, when it’s our own lawns turning brown and brittle in the summer drought. We take care of us and our own. The mountains will be there when we want them, when we have time for them.

Right?

Like everything, rock changes, too. Foundations crumble, canyon walls erode, entire tectonic plates shift. They symbolize what many think of nature as—everlasting and enduring, changing slowly and naturally over the course of time. But that isn’t true. Not always. Not anymore. Nature lasts because we think it’s valuable and because we’re willing to fight for it. It survives because we protect it.

In 2017, change in the outdoors seems quicker than ever. There are no guarantees on what will survive the year.  It’s happening across America. You can’t see it all from your window.

This blog is a place to give a voice to the American wilderness and the people who support it. As journalist Katherine Boo wrote:

“I don’t try to fool myself that the stories of individuals are themselves arguments. I just believe that better arguments, maybe even better policies, get formulated when we know more about ordinary lives.”

This is our land, and these are its stories.