PR for People Monthly September 2017 - Page 35

constantly in the same meetings, fighting the same battles and working the same causes.

Women have always been the leaders in this community so there are plenty of women (young and old) who continue to lead these community efforts. Fisheries, community-causes, churches, schools and local businesses are all led/owned/engineered by the women and men realize that. Most of them accept it, but there will always be resistance; we just out-smart them and move on!

Faktorovich: Both of you have been involved in some government or community service. For example, Barbara, you currently serve as the Chair of the Down East Council, and previously worked on a Sea Grant Advisory Board, and on a Steering Committee. Has either of you attempted to gain higher political offices? Do you have ambitions to climb higher in this direction? Why is it important for activists to take leadership roles in state or local government (in addition to research or non-profit building)?

Garrity-Blake: In the wake of the environmental movement I mentioned earlier, Down East Tomorrow, I was inspired to run for state House of Representatives. My opponent was no friend of the environment, and in fact led the legislation that Stephen Colbert made fun of, basically “outlawing” climate change in North Carolina! Long story short, I lost. Then I tried again two years later, for state Senate, and also lost. I think the demographics of our area make it next to impossible for a Democrat to win, but I still try to do my part for our communities in other ways.

Amspacher: This is a Barbara question; I have no desire for a political role in government efforts.

Faktorovich: What advice about life, your careers, or anything else would you give yourselves if you met yourself when you had just finished a bachelor’s degree?

Garrity-Blake: A big part of me wants to say, “Get a job with benefits!” My husband and I are both self-employed, which has afforded us much freedom, and we’ve lived rich, creative lives. But as we age, I do worry about lack of a pension. Yet…who knows? I love my work, and I love where we live. What a privilege it’s been to sit down with folks and have them open their hearts to me. And I have time to write, play music, and travel. Would I really be better off had I been tied to a 9-5 job? When my son graduated with a degree in sociology, and then announced he was going to become a mushroom farmer, I kept my mouth shut!

Amspacher: Hmm. Wow. Seriously? Actually, it has taken all my detours, setbacks and heartaches to be where I am. I graduated from Appalachian State University in western North Carolina and had all intentions to stay in the mountains and continue my education, teach and live there. I did not want to come home, partly because I knew I would “lose my life” in this community and I would never be “free” again. That has pretty much been the case.

If I could do any of it over, I would definitely have stayed in school for a Masters or maybe more, and learned more about public policy, the environment, maybe even pursued law school. I’ve been told that’s the direction I should have taken and then I could fight these community battles (development, fisheries, economic) with more facts and less emotion, and I am sure that is the case.

Education is key, but I believe living other places is the secret to understanding how valuable “sense of place” is to people, often without them even realizing it. Many of the firsthand struggles I have encountered have been from people who have never lived outside this culture and do not realize how quickly a community can be uprooted and displaced, or how unforgiving “money” can be in changing a landscape and destroying a natural resource. I continue to stress to parents how important it is for their children to live-away long enough to realize how important, unique and valuable their homeland is.

Faktorovich: Thank you both for participating in this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?

Garrity-Blake: Karen, do you mind if I address your ambivalence in writing this book? Karen is fiercely protective of the communities and cultural heritage of this area. I think the meaning is so deep for her that any attempt to write about it would seem cheap. Would you agree, Karen? And I’ll add that what we’ve presented in Living at the Water’s Edge is in fact just the tip of the iceberg. This region has such a rich history, maritime heritage, and storytelling tradition. I urge readers to look at our work as a start, a map that can point them to further exploration!

Amspacher: I have truly enjoyed this “conversation” and hope I have not been too relaxed in my responses. It is exciting to answer questions that are grounded in what we have written and who we are! Thank you! I’m eager to see where this goes…

Anna Faktorovich, Ph.D., is the Founder, Director, Designer and Editor-in-Chief of the Anaphora Literary Press, which has published over 200 titles in non-fiction, fiction and poetry.