Introducing the 2017 Uplift Climate Conference!

By: Juan Jaramillo, Uplift Intern

What is Uplift’s story?

One could say Uplift has been millions of years in the making. The major uplift which lifted the Colorado Plateau from sea-level to several thousand feet, the continental drift that moved the Plateau from the equator, and that separated the Plateau from Pangea to the American continent, all came together to physically place the Plateau where it is today. But these are just the geologic forces that made the Colorado Plateau. The movement of peoples into the American continents, the settlement of at least 12 tribes throughout the Plateau, colonization by Spaniards, the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican-American War, the colonization by Anglo settlers, Indian Wars, and the mining of resources from these lands, also made the Colorado Plateau. These processes appear to be separate, but the same geological processes that move continents and raise plateaus, also lead to oceans rising and falling, natural resource localized abundance, and the creation and destruction continental land bridges. Without those processes, human culture very well may have never touched the Plateau until after colonization.

The organizers of the first Uplift knew this as they camped near the Grand Canyon, but they also knew that looking at the literal foundations of the region was not enough to tackle the problems facing us today. So they set out to start and inspire relevant conversations about critical environmental and cultural issues in this region which evolve every year. This manifested into a youth led conference which is centered around climate change, climate justice, and climate adaptation, while also being mindful of diversity,   inclusivity, multiculturalism, and authenticity. In honor of the complex history of this special place, they named the conference Uplift after the geologic process that formed the Colorado Plateau.

Who is behind Uplift?

Uplift is run by a small team of hardworking, passionate young adults from all over the Colorado Plateau region. As one of our organizers, Brooke Larsen, explained, “A diverse group of young leaders are organizing the 2017 Uplift Climate Conference. The organizing team comes from all corners of the Colorado Plateau--from Dinétah to the mountain town of Durango, Colorado. They bring backgrounds ranging from geology to environmental humanities, which helps the organizing team create a conference that appeals to all types of interests. Organizers are leaders among the climate justice movement, tackling the most critical issues from a variety of perspectives with groups such as Outdoor Afro, the Little Colorado River Watershed Chapters Association, SustainUS, and other grassroots organizing collectives in their home communities.”  You can see our full team here:

Why is the 2017 Uplift Conference important?

Uplift Coordinator Eva Malis stated, “2017 is a critical year for the climate justice movement. Public dissent is rising and people are finding it harder to bury their heads. It is even more critical for young people to be gathering, strategizing, and motivating the newly activated towards climate action and resistance. Uplift 2017 is about creating a space for that.”

Therefore, the Uplift 2017 gathering will be a space that young land stewards can look forward to. Uplift organizer Kayla Devault said, “I’m looking forward to tapping into tough topics of tribal sovereignty in light of energy development. I work very closely in that area and want to start some difficult conversations around what just transition and solidarity truly looks like.” At Uplift, will be talking about what a just transition looks like to young people on the Colorado Plateau, and collectively crafting climate solutions for our region. For example, as Brooke put it, “the region [continues to be] a national sacrifice zone for extreme energy projects.” One can look at the Navajo Generating Station, the uranium Canyon Mine on Havasupai land, any of the other mines on Native lands to see examples of major climate justice issues.

Young people in this movement are rising. Those who care about the planet and its people are seeking a channel to not openly share their dissonance, but also their resistance strategy, their mindfulness, their pain, and their hope, so that our movements can continue to rise in these perilous times. Uplift 2017 will be that space.

Register for Uplift now at

Camping is Not For Everyone

Camping is Not For Everyone

At my college, I am not just an environmental studies major, but I have been a mentor for our low-income/first generation college students for years. One of the many things I have realized as a poor environmentalist, is that many of our low-income/first generation students do not participate in our Outdoor Education Center (OEC), not even in the trips. Although they do a lot to reach out to us, letting students borrow expensive gear and subsidizing expensive trips, I don’t even use the center. I think I know why.

Meet Your New Uplift Coordinator!

Uplift is excited to introduce the newest member of our team: our recently hired Uplift Coordinator. We interviewed her so that you can get to know her a bit. Read on for her story!


Where are you from?

       Hello! My name is Eva Malis and I am 21 years old. I grew up in the sunny suburbs of Los Angeles County and was fortunate to spend many of my growing years romping through the Eastern Sierras. I have spent the more recent years of my life in the SF Bay Area as a UC Berkeley student, and have experienced the Colorado Plateau through the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program.



            In my time as a student, I’ve learned that our power comes from rising together--especially for young people facing oppression. Coming together to learn, share stories, and be in community with each other might just be the most vital form of resistance and healing right now. That is why Uplift is so important--we must claim our collective power in the continued fight for all forms of justice.

       I see the Colorado Plateau as a place with so much potential to set a precedent for the kinds of landscapes, policies, sustainable and just communities we want to see. Through Uplift, I cannot wait to work with youth on the Colorado Plateau to collectively shape the future of the region and the field of conservation itself!



            I spent the latter half of 2016 organizing the Power Shift West Convergence with the California Student Sustainability Coalition and the Power Shift Network. It was a gathering of hundreds of youth from around the western US to reshape and redefine the mainstream environmental movement into an inclusive, intersectional movement that centers the people most impacted by environmental degradation and climate change.

       I also have spent the last two years organizing with the Students of Color Environmental Collective (SCEC), providing safe space and opportunity for students of color to be involved in environmental organizing. Recently, SCEC has partnered with Students with Standing Rock to provide support for the resistance of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

       My first introduction to organizing was with Students Against Fracking and then the fight against Keystone XL. Ever since, I have been redefining what activism means to me in search of intersectionality and collective liberation.



            It is so hard to choose a favorite! If I had to go with one, it would be Arches National Park. I was first introduced to the Colorado Plateau by reading Desert Solitaire, and was charmed by Abbey’s raw descriptions of his surroundings, so Arches holds a special place in my heart. My favorite arch is Double Arch! Other favorite places include Canyonlands, Monument Valley, and Sedona.



            I just started reading The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Favorites that I’ve read recently include The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty, Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto, and Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko--would definitely recommend these for the soulful revolutionary!

Love and Vibrancy Behind the Movement


Meet Elea Ziegelbaum, an 18-year-old climate activist living in Flagstaff, Arizona. She is currently in her senior year of high school at Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy. We first met Elea when she walked into a Flagstaff community meeting last July, and have learned more about her work since Uplift in August 2016.  We asked her the following questions to get a better sense of the interplay between Uplift and other regional movements.



Why did you decide to participate in Uplift? How did it connect with your existing work and passions?

I decided to participate in Uplift because I wanted to meet other passionate youth fighting for climate justice. As I am the leader of an EarthGuardians Crew at my school and have done activism as well as conservation work around the Colorado Plateau, I wanted to make  connections with fellow youth so as to learn from one another, compare our experiences in this work, and collaborate with each other to create the sustainable future we want.

What ideas or connections from Uplift have been most impactful? Did Uplift introduce anything you hadn't thought about before?

One very valuable thing that Uplift taught me was that climate justice and social justice go hand in hand. All human matters relate to each other in some way, thus, the fight for climate justice is also a fight against social and economic injustice. The system which is perpetrating climate change is also the same one which wages war, keeps people in poverty, treats men and women unequally and oppresses racial groups, among many other things. Social justice is a fundamental matter of climate justice, as we will never be able to attain the future we demand in a system which values wealth and power over human rights.

What does your environmental work/activism/organizing look like right now? Do you see it changing in the near future? Tell us a little about what you've found to be the most effective and where you need to grow.

Photo courtesy of Flagstaff Earth Guardians

Photo courtesy of Flagstaff Earth Guardians

The environmental work I am doing right now is especially focused on empowering my peers in my community and school to realize the immense power they hold in their voice, and that with it, they can create the change they want to see in our world. I mainly do this through the Earth Guardians chapter I run at my school. The crew has done a lot of good work this year, such as protesting and rallying, raising awareness at our school about climate change, creating art, and doing community service work.
Our focus as a club has lately turned to taking any possible action to safeguard our lands and strengthen environmental regulations before president-elect Donald Trump takes office. We have been signing petitions and pledges and are in the process of writing letters to our local representatives urging them to take action against Trump's anti-environmentalist agenda.
What I have found to be most important in this work is to stay positive and motivated. It sometimes proves to be difficult to stay engaged when I get negative feedback for the work I do, but reminding myself of the importance of climate justice always makes the occasional let-down more than worth it.

You grew up in Flagstaff. What are your most pressing concerns in our area?

Having grown up in Flagstaff, I have seen its landscape and the landscape of Northern Arizona in general undergo drastic change. Rising temperatures, desecration of indigenous land, a shrinking water supply, development, mining, and a growing population are all among the issues that cause me deep concern for the beautiful Colorado Plateau. I think it is important for us, as inhabitants of this unique region, to mobilize ourselves to fight against the big mining and energy companies that the Southwest is most vulnerable to, to urge our representatives to craft responsible and progressive water policy, and to advocate for and support local business and initiatives to discourage the big corporate chains which have slowly been overtaking Flagstaff. I think it is also crucial for non-indigenous people to offer themselves as allies for Native peoples of this region, as they almost always bear the brunt of this desecration.

What gives you hope?

What gives me hope is the love and vibrancy behind the environmental movement. Uplift was just one of the many examples of the innovative, scintillating, and enthusiastic minds which are making up this movement, and who are making up our future. What gives me hope is knowing that I will be inheriting this world with these inspiring and compassionate individuals, who are the creators of a future which embraces equity, harmony, and peace for all beings on Earth.

From the Colorado Plateau to COP22

by Brooke Larsen

Five SustainUS Delegation who participated in the 2016 Uplift Climate Conference including (right to left) Remy Franklin, myself, an organizer of Uplift, Kayla DeVault, Morgan Curtis, and Daniel Jubelirer.

Five SustainUS Delegation who participated in the 2016 Uplift Climate Conference including (right to left) Remy Franklin, myself, an organizer of Uplift, Kayla DeVault, Morgan Curtis, and Daniel Jubelirer.

It’s been three months since Uplift’s powerful gathering of young climate justice activists from across the Colorado Plateau. Five of us who dreamed, schemed, and learned at Uplift now find ourselves bringing heart to COP22—the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco. 

    When Kayla reflects on Uplift, she feels that Uplift “strives to incorporate the local voice and have difficult conversations connecting social issues to the environment.” The SustainUS delegation has tried to bring a similar approach to COP22, focusing on learning about the struggles of frontline communities in Morocco. 

Local Moroccan activists are highlighting the ways the Moroccan regime are using COP22 to greenwash their crimes. Photo by Remy Franklin. 

Local Moroccan activists are highlighting the ways the Moroccan regime are using COP22 to greenwash their crimes. Photo by Remy Franklin. 

Across Morocco there are parallel stories to the American West. When listening to local activists talk about drought conditions and the creation of national sacrifice zones, I can’t help but think of the looming megadrought in the American Southwest and the communities experiencing destructive extraction.—from Black Mesa to tar sands in Utah

Some delegates had the chance to venture outside of Marrakech to witness the environmental injustices happening on the ground in Morocco. Daniel and Kayla spent one of their first days in Morocco at a “Systems Change Not Climate Change” conference in Safi, a town a couple hours away from Marrakech experiencing environmental and cultural destruction from a phosphate mine. OCP, the phosphate company, is one of the sponsors of COP22. Niria Alicia, a SustainUS delegate from Oregon, connected Safi to global water struggles (read her powerful blog here).

Toxic waste spilling out into the ocean near Safi. Photo by Niria Alicia. 

Toxic waste spilling out into the ocean near Safi. Photo by Niria Alicia. 

The greenwashing of COP by the Moroccan regime is clear. 

Kayla spent three days at Imider, an indigenous Amazigh community 300km south of Marrakech. For three decades, the villagers have faced exploitation, and most recently they’re fighting against the largest silver mine in Africa. In 2011, the community closed off a key valve delivering water to the Imider mine and have been occupying the area ever since. Kayla reflected on the clear connections between the struggle at Imider and the struggle in Standing Rock. We need global solidarity.

Kayla (Anishinaabe/Shawnee) meets with the Ait Atta tribe at the mider protest camp. Photo by Nadir Bouhmouch. 

Kayla (Anishinaabe/Shawnee) meets with the Ait Atta tribe at the mider protest camp. Photo by Nadir Bouhmouch. 

It can be hard to feel a sense of place at COP22. What is the role of personal story and community struggles in an international space? A protester from Imider spoke to this question at a press conference organized by REDACOP, the democratic alternative to COP. He said one of the best ways to stand in solidarity with the people at Imider is to work on the struggles in your home community. 

We make sense of our experiences here by comparing them to the stories we know. Our thoughts lingered back home, most strongly in the aftermath of the election. When I think of returning home, I remember what brought me to this movement: the red rock. I feel the red earth bleeding. My home state of Utah has been a national sacrifice zone for decades—from nuclear weapons testing to fossil fuel extraction. But the potential loss feels magnified. How many more cuts will the new Republican regime create?

With Trump threatening to pull out of the Paris Agreement, the future of the U.S. in the UNFCCC is uncertain. Even if the U.S. stays in the Paris Agreement, it’s almost certain we can expect little to no climate action from the federal government. Thus, youth at COP22 are focusing on the power of people. At our post-election action, we unveiled a “People’s To-Do List” to turn the focus to the power of our movement, rather than the power of Trump. 

In the wake of the U.S. election, SustainUS organized an action with youth from around the world to grieve and denounce a Trump presidency. They unveiled a “People’s To-Do List” emphasizing the critical role of people power over the next four years. Photo by David Tong. 

In the wake of the U.S. election, SustainUS organized an action with youth from around the world to grieve and denounce a Trump presidency. They unveiled a “People’s To-Do List” emphasizing the critical role of people power over the next four years. Photo by David Tong. 

When I think of the power of our movement, Uplift is on the front of my mind. Now more than ever we must build on the momentum from the Uplift Conference to form active networks that will support one another year-round. We must support one another to resist fossil fuel development, share knowledge and experiences for community-driven, decentralized renewable energy, and celebrate one another and our wild home through art, music, and story. To stand in solidarity with our global allies, we must fulfill our commitments to climate justice by acting in our local communities. 

The true value we’re gaining from COP is in the relationships we’re building and shared knowledge we’ll take back to our home communities. For example, Remy found connections to his work back home in Tucson, Arizona during a high-level evening event called “100% Renewable Energy for 1.5C.” Remy’s research focuses on a just transition. “Almost everyone in Tucson has access to incredibly reliable, relatively affordable electricity,” he says. “This doesn’t mean energy poverty isn’t a problem in Arizona (many struggle to pay their utility bills and there are thousands of un-electrified homes on the Navajo Nation) but in cities, at least, the U.S. specializes in reliable electricity supply. This isn’t the case for many parts of the world.” The question of the hour is, how can we leverage this relative privilege?

Attending COP22 and building community with the SustainUS delegation helps forge the relationships needed for national and global solidarity. By learning from one another, we will create more resilient communities. Just like people left Uplift with relationships, story, and skills to bring back to their homes, the SustainUS delegates will leave COP22 empowered to organize.

    In the wake of an election that laid bare continued injustice at home and our questions about the efficacy of international climate negotiations, I can’t help but think about the struggles in the Southwest. I feel more committed than ever to work on climate justice at a local level. 


Reading is a Radical Act

Reading is a Radical Act

by Claire Martini

A professor of mine once justified a syllabus comprised almost entirely of male writers with the flip comment that perhaps women had not yet written a "seminal" body of work. Therefore, women did not belong in the Western cannon. Now, I know this to be false. Yet it demonstrates how as women writers and women readers, we are tasked with shouldering the work to undo the sexism, racism, and classism upheld within the literary establishment.

The work begins with our bookshelves. In hopes of sparking internal dialogue and community conversation, I'm collecting women writers who have been influential and important to me. Reading is a radical act; little else can supplement lived experience in its power to change minds. Who are your favorite women writers?

1. Terry Tempest Williams

The Hour of Land

Terry is an unparalleled storyteller, naturalist, and mentor. She is also an activist; most recently, she and her husband Brooke bid on BLM oil and gas leases near Arches National Park, and they continue to hold the ground for alternative energy development. Her most recent book, The Hour of Land, celebrates our National Parks as a microcosm of our very American problems as she asks what we may learn.

Terry's words always push me to go deeper: "We lose nothing by loving."


2. Luci Tapahanso

Blue Horses Rush In

There’s a reason Luci Tapahanso was honored as Navajo Nation’s first Poet Laureate. Prayer meets place with her lyrical words. I revisit Blue Horses Rush In whenever I need to be reminded of what's at the center.

Listen to Luci Tapahanso's poem "This is How They Were Placed for Us" in English and Navajo.


3. Claire Vaye Watkins

Gold Fame Citrus

Full disclosure: I’ve only just finished Battleborn, Watkins’ literary debut, but can’t wait to get my hands on Gold Fame Citrus. Watkins is part of a growing genre of “Cli-fi”(climate fiction) that deals with global warming. NPR describes Gold Fame Citrus as plausible reality, the day after tomorrow: "Just over a too-near horizon where everything is drought and lack and death. Where the water is gone and the people are gone and the southwest has become a wild, weird, rolling apocalypse that, sure, is a fiction today but might be history by next year."



4. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

From colonialist expansion to indigenous resistance, this peoples’ history “explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative” for 400 years. Her work is of particular importance to contextualize contemporary struggles here in the Southwest. Fun fact: Dunbar-Ortiz was a prominent activist in the '60s and '70s, working primarily on labor and war issues.

She writes, “The history of the United States is a history of settler colonialism—the founding of a state based on the ideology of white supremacy, the widespread practice of African slavery, and a policy of genocide and land theft.” 


5. Amy Irvine


From the opening line of Trespass--"My home is a red desert that trembles with spirits and bones"--I knew I would love this book. It echoes Refuge (by Terry Tempest Williams), but with a cast and tone all its own. Irvine tells the story of her retreat to canyon country after her father's suicide and the all-too-human struggles she encounters in Monticello, UT working to protect Utah's wilderness.


6. Leslie Marmon Silko


Leslie Marmon Silko tells us why we need stories: “They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.”

Reading this landmark novel is the first step towards seeing the world with Silko's eyes, where the sacred unfolds every day. "I see myself as a member of the global community," she says. "My old folks who raised me saw themselves as citizens of the world. We see no borders. When I write I am writing to the world, not to the United States alone."


7. Judith Nies

Unreal City

Have you ever wondered why the Southwest's water, energy, and people are the way they are? Well, chances are Nies will answer your questions in her investigation of coal, water, tribes, and politicians. With journalistic rigor, Nies comes through with policy analysis (she tells us the coal and water leases "violated every guideline the Department of the Interior had set up for leasing on public lands") yet never loses sight of the contemporary implications of all this politicking. If you work on climate justice issues, Unreal City is a must-read.


8. Ellen Meloy

The Anthropology of Turquoise

Meloy’s writing changed the way that I see in the desert. “The Anthropology of Turquoise” focuses on color and light across cultures and throughout history, chasing the importance of this particular blue-green straight to Meloy’s heart (and mine). To be fair, I love everything she's ever written. Try "Eating Stone” for the world's funniest account of bighorn sheep mating rituals and “The Last Cheater’s Waltz” for a serious look at the Southwest's role in nuclear armament and why we're still affected, generations later.

Ellen asked questions about home that I had not yet learned to form. Her urgency lives on: “I would like to do whatever it is that presses the essence from the hour.” 


9. Gretel Ehrlich

The Solace of Open Spaces

A friend gifted me with her dog-eared copy just before we graduated. I toted the short book on multiple backpacking trips to reread Ehrlich's spare prose and feel the harsh Wyoming winds. She opened my city-girl mind to the solitary struggles of ranch life, while retaining a deep wonder for the world. This is a classic. Here's one of my favorite passages: “All through autumn we hear a double voice: one says everything is ripe; the other says everything is dying. The paradox is exquisite. We feel what the Japanese call aware--an almost untranslatable word meaning something like beauty tinged with sadness.” 


10. Isabel Allende

Hija de la Fortuna

Wild card! You’ve probably read Allende’s House of the Spirits and are wondering what she's doing on a list of Western writers. But one of Allende's lesser-known novels tells the story of a young Chilean immigrant chasing gold (and love) in California. From a true master of the form, this is an abundant and multicultural tale about the part of the west where our water goes.


A few other favorite Western writers to watch: Tacey Atsitty, Ashley Davidson, Jaqueline Keeler, Brooke Larsen, and many more.

Happy reading!

P.s. Make sure to support your local, independent booksellers and public libraries.

The Power of Connection

By Frankie Beesley

Alice Walker once wrote:

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. 

I remember the day that everything changed for me. I was eighteen years old and a first-timer to the mountain town of Flagstaff that I have called home for six years now. In 2010, destiny saw me involved in home weatherization efforts, bringing low-income community members into a program provided by the city. One of our outreach efforts involved a group of six of us (undergraduates, graduate students, and professors) door-knocking in a predominantly Latina/o part of town. Many of the homes were trailers with missing windows, roofs caving in—living conditions that can be harrowing during our short but bitterly cold months. We were face-to-face with different community members as we spoke to them on their front porches. Many told us they did not have the means to pay their utility bills. One woman was in tears as she recounted how her family was unable to make ends meet and unable to heat their home during the winter.

Hearing people’s stories and seeing them eye-to-eye caused my brain to make certain connections that day. I realized that I needed to take action to address social injustices. I made connections as to why certain people are more impacted by climate change in the long run over others. I realized how socio-economic disparities can be visceral. They’re happening anywhere if you’re willing to see them. Personal stories connected all of this for me. Seeing someone face-to-face was all that it took for me to vow to spend my life addressing climate justice issues.

Collective power becomes clear when you’re in a group of people or collecting stories with a few other folks to make you realize the agency and collective power that we all have. Stories are what connect all of us and they are the fodder for creating beyond needed change within our communities. Flagstaff isn’t the only place where this happens, but it was the first place where I saw this taking place in real time, in my life. Change is a hard process. We live in daunting times of social and environmental upheaval, where public input and participation are falling to the wayside. For some, our very homes are threatened due to poor planning and the ever looming threat of climate change.

Flagstaffians at city council, fighting a student housing project that would displace low-income families.

Flagstaffians at city council, fighting a student housing project that would displace low-income families.

Fossil Free NAU student organizers calling on President Rita Cheng to divest NAU from fossil fuels.

Fossil Free NAU student organizers calling on President Rita Cheng to divest NAU from fossil fuels.

The Colorado Plateau, in particular, is one of the threatened and precious places that this is happening to. With all of this happening at once, it’s hard to realize that there are things that can be done to address and alleviate them. It’s hard to even get out of bed some mornings. But it does not have to remain this way. More and more people are gathering and planning every single day, even here on the Plateau and in our mountain town. And many of these people are young and innovative, thirsty for change and driven by a passion. This passion feels like deep anger and love at the same time. Many of these people have grown up in a world where climate change has always been real, where economic situations aren’t getting better, and where many of our elders have lost most of their faith or have for some reason begun to place some of the blame on us, the youth--the ones that we are all counting on. 

In late August, youth from various backgrounds of the Colorado Plateau will gather just outside of Durango, CO, in efforts to share their lived experiences within this region, to listen to the work that others are doing to fight against climate injustice, and to create action plans to protect these sacred spaces and irreplaceable people that we call home. Uplift, which has a planning team made up solely by youth and for youth, is changing the climate conversation. We’re envisioning new ways of addressing the world’s biggest problems and we are doing this through an important means: by the collection of narratives, the connection of story, and by the tenacity to create action from these combined stories. 

It’s easy to forget the power that we have in times like these. It’s easy to become complacent and to expect only the worst. And yet, amidst the chaos of our daily lives, there is nothing like the feeling of gathering together; like the feeling of connecting; like the feeling of creating action to protect and preserve the places that we love and the people that we call home. There’s nothing quite like knowing what it means to truly be human and to truly have the power to create lasting change. 

We invite you to gather for a community meeting at Firecreek Coffee Company on Thursday, July 21st at 5:00pm to discuss your connection to the Colorado Plateau, why you personally feel it is an important place to save, and how we can collectively work to continue preserving and protecting it for generations to come. 

Flagstaff Speak Up meets at Firecreek in 2014.

Flagstaff Speak Up meets at Firecreek in 2014.

Press Release: Uplift Joins Native American Tribes in Calling For President Obama to Protect Bears Ears As A National Monument

July 15, 2016

Young leaders across the Colorado Plateau thank the Administration for convening a public meeting in Bluff, Utah to discuss ways to best protect the area. We urge officials from the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to recommend that President Obama protect the Bears Ears region in Southeastern Utah as a national monument.

The Bears Ears Buttes framed with summer wild flowers. Photographer: Tim Peterson

The Bears Ears Buttes framed with summer wild flowers. Photographer: Tim Peterson

“For my generation, protecting Bears Ears is a chance for healing past injustices and restoring respect to tribes,” said Brooke Larsen, Uplift Organizer from Salt Lake City. “Protecting Bears Ears is a necessary step towards more diverse and inclusive public lands.” 

The Bears Ears region is the ancestral homeland of many southwestern indigenous tribes and a landscape with more than 100,000 Native American cultural sites. Yet, it remains unprotected despite decades of efforts to safeguard this area.

“I first understood the depth of Native American history in the Bears Ears region while hiking the Grand Gulch. From the San Juan River, one experiences hundreds of pieces of painted and coiled-clay pottery, myriad granaries and dwellings built into cliffs, and faded hand-prints and shamanic figures staring down from sandstone walls,” said Marcel Gaztambide, Uplift Organizer from Salt Lake City. “The littered beer cans, candy wrappers, and other human refuse made the need for enhanced protection obvious. The value and fragility of this place demands monument status.”

Petroglyph graces the Comb Ridge. Photographer: Josh Ewing

Petroglyph graces the Comb Ridge. Photographer: Josh Ewing

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has recently stated that they are currently investigating nearly a half dozen looting and vandalism cases in the area, highlighting the urgent need to protect Bears Ears now.

In addition, the area faces growing threats from oil and gas development and potash and uranium mining. Such development would permanently damage this culturally and ecologically important landscape.

“Keeping all fossil fuels in the ground may be unrealistic, but our leaders must have the courage to protect our most sacred and wild places from the destruction of extraction,” said Larsen. “The deep time of the red rock inspires hope in our capacity for restraint.”
In 2016, a coalition of five sovereign Native American Tribal Nations requested that President Obama protect the area as a national monument. This effort has support from the outdoor recreation industry and other business leaders, archeologists, communities of faith, and conservation groups. In addition, recent polls showed that 71 percent of Utahans support a Bears Ears National Monument.  

 “I moved to the Southwest and began working to protect public lands because of the Bears Ears region,” said Claire Martini, Uplift Coordinator. “As young people, we rely on the actions of our elders to make our future better. Bears Ears is a tremendous opportunity for the President to safeguard our cultural heritage and environmental quality for future generations.”

Fall color in the Abajo Mountains. Photographer: Tim Peterson

Fall color in the Abajo Mountains. Photographer: Tim Peterson


Uplift, a youth-organized climate action community, was formed in partnership with the Grand Canyon Trust and the Landscape Conservation Initiative in November 2014 to empower and unite young leaders to address critical environmental issues across the Colorado Plateau. The youth-directed movement that emerged from these efforts, Uplift Climate Conference, has worked to elevate youth voices and support creative discussion to help further the climate movement. This year’s conference is August 18-20 in Durango, CO. The inaugural conference was held in Flagstaff in April 2015.

Let's be real

6 "Learning Experiences" from the Uplift process

By Claire Martini


In any given room, Uplifters may not have the most academic degrees, years of experience, or published papers, but let’s get something straight: Our action is rooted in love for this place, sacred rage regarding the threats, and a need to protect our communities. We don’t know everything, but living here teaches us enough to start.

When I tell people about Uplift, often they’re interested in outcomes. They want to know: How many people did you reach? What have you accomplished? I cringe at the implication of "deliverables." Because as I’ve come to appreciate, the process is often one of the best parts.

Uplift began with little more than the idea of shaping conservation by “doing something” with young people. At the first Uplift planning retreat in fall of 2014, we took markers to oversized blank pages and combined our visions to put on the inaugural Uplift gathering in April 2015. Almost 100 people showed up! The discussion of conservation as it pertains to young desert dwellers on the Colorado Plateau impressed our sponsors enough to make them invest in Uplift again, and now we're honing in on climate change and the need for enhanced collaboration across the region. Uplift is growing!

But it's not always an easy ride. Along the way, our Uplift organizers (a dynamic and mostly volunteer team) have had some pretty hilarious moments. In the name of transparency, we want to share them with you.

Check out six moments we affectionately call "learning experiences" from the Uplift organizing process:

Remind me, where's home?

Remind me, where's home?

1. One of our team members has moved a grand total of 6 times since November. We're talking big, interstate moves. It's the perfect illustration of why our demographic is hard to organize. Young people are transient! Life happens. And we've got a lot of it unfolding.

When we’re moving around and working crazy hours at our day jobs, staying connected means…

Slack-ing all day.

Slack-ing all day.

2. Using Slack to stay in touch. So. Many. Messages. To be exact, we've sent 2.9K since November. Current emoji totals unknown.

Welcome to the struggle bus.

Welcome to the struggle bus.

3.    We’re trying to get hip with the times and reach out to more people through social media. But sometimes, that doesn’t go so well…like when we had trouble getting Facebook to display the right time zone for an event.

Uplifters Anonymous.

Uplifters Anonymous.

4.    We brought Uplift on the road! Which was a success overall, but some meetings looked like this for a while…which taught us we had to up our communication and collaboration with partners on the ground.

Community organizing happens by building relationships, one conversation at a time. Listen in on the conversation in Moab.


5.    Conference calls. These can be productive. Or, they can be ridiculous. A favorite moment of mine was when Brooke and I were calling in from the BLM offices in Salt Lake City, another organizer from rural Maine, and one team member took the call from a noisy coffee shop in Flagstaff. Midway through giving an update on the program, she yelped “Biscotti! In my coffee! I just dropped my biscotti in my coffee!” Typical conference call. If you haven’t seen this spoof, watch it. It’s too real.

So, why is it worth it?

Growing Uplift to where it is now has taken years, sweat, and a few tears along the way. But we’re honoring the process of Uplift by sticking with it, even when things don’t turn out exactly perfect because we still believe that “doing something” is the best place to start. Take the first step by joining us this August 18-20 in Durango! Don't forget your sass.

Meme: "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person"

Attention, young lovers of public land! If you hike, bike, camp, climb, farm, boat, or study in the West, we'd like to hear what public lands mean to you. Share your words and images!

Why? We're making memes to spread the word about Uplift and climate justice to tell the world (or at least the internet) that young people care about Western public lands.

What we'd like:

1.    Your name, age, and hometown

2.    A glamour shot of YOU on public lands

3.    Answers to one or more of these questions:

  • Why are you excited about Uplift?

  • For me, climate justice is…

  • Why us (youth), why now?

  • What does the Colorado Plateau mean to you?

  • What do public lands mean to you?

We'll post submissions we receive to Instagram and Facebook, and you'll be helping us get the word out about Uplift. See ideas of what we're looking for:


Meme: “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person”

We can't wait to hear what you have to say! Please send your photos and answers to


Guest post by Emily Gillit, who wrote about Uplift for a journalism assignment this spring:

Emily Gillit has lived in Northern Arizona for the majority of her life. She is currently attending Northern Arizona University to study Photography and Journalism so she can share the beauty and wonder hidden in plain sight here in Arizona.

Over the weekend of April 17-19, 2015 at Camp Colton, the Grand Canyon Trust hosted Uplift, their first climate conference for young people, by young people. The goal of the conference, according to the Grand Canyon Trust website is “to empower and unite young leaders to address climate change on the Colorado Plateau.”

The Grand Canyon Trust’s mission is “to protect and restore the Colorado Plateau — its spectacular landscapes, flowing rivers, clean air, diversity of plants and animals, and areas of beauty and solitude.” A youth conference was the perfect way for the Grand Canyon Trust to connect to young and young-at-heart people to inform them of the issues within the region and help them understand what they can do to help.

In explaining the name of the conference, Claire Martini, coordinator for Uplift and for youth engagement for AmeriCorps, said, “we called ourselves Uplift, after the geologic phenomenon that defines the Colorado Plateau. For us, home lies within the elevated contours and aridity that define this broad sweep of high desert.”

The Grand Canyon Trust used Camp Colton to set the tone of the conference, by getting all of their participants to connect with the outdoors. Camp Colton is “a residential environmental education center that is owned by the Flagstaff Unified School District,” according to the Friends of Camp Colton website.

The Colorado Plateau is a region that encompasses a wide range of natural features spanning across the four corners region. The plateau takes up the majority of Northern Arizona, Southeast Utah, West Colorado and the Northwest of New Mexico.

The conference made itself available to everyone. The fee for Uplift was a minimum donation of $5. The Grand Canyon Trust also offered the opportunity for registration fee waivers and travel scholarships.

Uplift attracted people from across the country, including students from Washington, from all types of backgrounds and ethnicities, drawing them into the conversation about conservation of the Colorado Plateau. The variety of backgrounds lent itself to expanding the conversation.

The first panel attended by all participants discussed the state of the land, water and politics in relation to the Colorado Plateau. The general goal of the panel was to spark the discussion that would be at the center of the conference, informing all of the participants of the current issues facing the region.

Discussions and workshops took up the majority of the three-day conference. The Grand Canyon Trust gave participants the option of choosing the workshops he or she wanted to attend. Options ranged from ‘Wilderness and Wildness’ to ‘Black Mesa Water Coalition: Just Transitions and Restorative Economy’ and ‘Save the Confluence’ to ‘Passion for Place: Photography in Conservation’ among many others.

In reflection on Uplift, a conference attendee said, “ I now feel empowered with knowledge to carry forward and make actual change. It was so important to bring people together from diverse backgrounds so we can learn from each other...also, [I was] so inspired to see an event this effective organized by people my age!”    

Approximately 90 young and young-at-heart people attended the conference, working together and participating in discussions and workshops.

Each Uplift participant left Camp Colton with a greater understanding of the Colorado Plateau, with connections to people who were as passionate as they were and with the knowledge of how to make a difference in issues facing the region.

Uplift laid the groundwork for future conferences by the Grand Canyon Trust as well as expanding the network of people interested in the issues relating to the Colorado Plateau. The 2015 conference was planned over six short months by 10 coordinators. The Grand Canyon Trust is already working on Uplift 2016, currently planned for August 18-20 in Durango, Colorado. The Grand Canyon Trust and Northern Arizona University’s Landscape Conservation Initiative make Uplift possible.

The Eyes of the Young

By Brooke Larsen

This piece is part of the Red Rock Stories project. The first phase of the project is a chapbook titled "Red Rock Testimony" that Torrey House Press Publisher Kirsten Allen and writer Stephen Trimble will deliver to the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration later this month. Part of Brooke's story is featured on the opening page. The story will also appear in the Red Rock Stories online community in the coming months and Red Rock Stories: Three Generations Speak on Behalf of Utah's Public Lands forthcoming in 2017 by Torrey House Press. 

As I descend the sticky sandstone cliffs into the Dirty Devil wilderness, anxiety seeps over me. Heading into the backcountry for three days makes me stop and run through any unsent emails before leaving cell service behind. Initially, my unease in disconnecting from technology overshadows my relief in reconnecting with nature.  But as a child of the red rock, that feeling quickly fades. My jaw loosens, my eyes come alive, and I howl. I hear the echo as a reminder that I am untamable.

I am in my early twenties. My generation is screen saturated and nature deprived. We find constant connection in our digital world, yet we hunger for depth. Our friendships grow in quantity rather than quality. Our relationship with our self and our environment degrades as our fear of solitude and silence grows. It’s not revolutionary to say my generation needs wilderness more than ever.

I reach the Dirty Devil and sink my feet in the mud at the river’s edge. Joy tingles every inch of my flesh, awakening my wild spirit. For me, few things match the beauty and awe of flowing water in a landscape of red. Even the rivers run red. One could say this landscape is parched earth, but as long as rivers flow, life seems in perfect balance. If I have children, will they also find a flowing Dirty Devil in 50 years?

The forces trying to desecrate this landscape not only leave initial scars, schisms and spills. The oil rigs and natural gas flares contribute to a much more existential threat—climate change. For my generation, it’s impossible to separate the need for wildness from the need for climate justice. Protecting this landscape is not just protecting our human spirit—it’s protecting the future of all life in the region. With daunting climate change predictions, it’s realistic to wonder if the Dirty Devil will still flow for the next generation. The economic, legal and biological ramifications of a water-stressed Colorado River Basin are well known. But what about the spiritual?

Crossing the Dirty Devil River, I head towards the canyons of the Robbers Roost. In popular culture, Robbers Roost is known as the outlaw hideout of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. For desert dwellers, it’s known for its wildness. Here, I follow coyote tracks rather than human footprints. I respect the power of water and wind to carve stories into walls. I experience desperately needed solitude and silence.

The red rock wilderness is my spiritual refuge and teacher of humility. In a society where young people can navigate anywhere with an app, I learn from navigating based on geologic layers and topographic lines. In a culture where we can have food delivered to us in minutes, I learn from planning my survival around the dependability of perennial streams. We realize our own insignificance. We realize our vulnerability.

For me, protecting this place is deeply personal. My family has called Utah home for six generations, but I didn’t grow up with religion. I grew up questioning. My story is written in carved slot canyons and desert washes. Wildness became my spiritual refuge—particularly the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. So if I respect the churches of others, why are the leaders of my state constantly disrespecting mine?

My red rock story is one of self-preservation. As the lands and people around me grow increasingly tamed, I fear I will lose my own wild, human spirit. Each drop of oil extracted digs me into a deeper existential crisis as I wonder if under a changing climate this region will remain livable.

The eyes of young people are closely watching. The spirits of future generations are pleading. The deep time of the red rock inspires hope—from the geologic story told in layers of orange, pink and red to the rock art left by ancestors of Native Americans who still call Bears Ears home. However, increasingly it feels like we are running out of time.

Our leaders must choose between greed and restraint. Our leaders must choose between preserving the American spirit and destroying it. Our leaders must choose a healthy, safe future for their grandchildren or immediate profit for themselves. If we think ethically and compassionately, the decision is not hard. As a young person, I implore you to act wisely and lovingly.

From concrete to ethereal: lessons from the road


The Uplift team has returned home from the first round of community conversations. We owe a big “thank you” to those who contributed to the discussion, and we’re inspired to see the broad range of youth-led climate work happening already across the Colorado Plateau!

In Prescott, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Durango, Moab, and Salt Lake City, the climate priorities communities identified were fairly consistent even as the organizing approaches and individuals varied. Young people spoke with care about water use and protection, curbing fossil fuel extraction, protecting wild and sacred spaces, and supporting sustainable communities. Many expressed concern about a non-receptive political climate at a local, regional, and national level. Read more about Uplift’s community conversations, from a reporter’s perspective.

What to do about it? Solutions may lie in ideas ranging from concrete to ethereal: education, networking, creativity, art, protest, community, uncertainty, democracy, affordable housing, restoration, language, traditional knowledge, and more.

Myriad young people are already fighting the good fight. For the people we spoke with, work to address the climate conundrum ranged from protesting at BLM lease auctions to building affordable and sustainable housing. They’re already using innovative ways to reach people, from putting art and creativity at the center, to enhancing inter-generational collaboration.

Here's where Uplift comes in: as a connector between various groups and individuals working across the expanse of the Colorado Plateau.

Meetings were best attended when we had personal connections or made contact with existing networks, and we learned about the areas where we have more work to do building relationships and community. As a group, we aim to highlight and support the amazing work already taking place on the ground, and weave it into a larger story for our region. If you have meaningful opportunities for young people to speak up and engage, whether organizing events, campaigns, rallies, or something else, please let us know and we’ll send it out to our networks! To stay connected on social media, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Looking forward, we’d love for you to join us at the conference August 18-20 in the San Juan National Forest outside Durango, Colorado.

As you probably already suspect, this isn’t your typical “conference.” It’s a celebration of what’s at stake. Uplifters can plan on camping amidst the ponderosa pines for three days of panel discussions, storytelling, and regional break-out groups to help strengthen the work you’re doing, or give you the tools and connections to dive in. We hope you’ll share your presence and ideas at Uplift this August. Please get in touch, because we can’t wait to work together and build community across this wild home of ours.

(If you need support to attend, please let us know, as limited scholarships for registration or travel are available.)

Story: The Most Powerful Renewable Energy

by Brooke Larsen

Storytelling is easier at Kane Ranch—an old homestead nestled in the vast House Rock Valley on the North Rim. The Vermilion Cliffs urge you to speak from the heart, welcome vulnerability, and respect deep time. At the Uplift planning retreat this past November, oil lamps flickered as the Uplift leadership team shared the origins of their love for the Colorado Plateau and an unyielding passion to protect their home.  Story was the focus: we grew closer by sharing our  story of self, the story of us and the story of now.

Recognizing the importance of storytelling for the climate justice movement, Uplift seeks to share climate stories from young people across the Colorado Plateau. In preparation for the Uplift Climate Conference this August in Durango, Colorado, a group of young organizers from Uplift will be traveling from April 29-May 16 holding community conversations across the Colorado Plateau. We want to learn, what does this region mean to you? What agitates you to act on climate?  What are your hopes? What do you love too much to lose?

My climate story is one of self-preservation. My family has called the Colorado Plateau home for six generations. The forests of the Wasatch and the red rock of Southern Utah are my spiritual refuge and teacher of humility. What do I love too much to lose? Burnt orange sand. Rivers that run red. Coyote tracks. Sticky sandstone beneath my soles. Slot canyons with unknown stories. Forgiving aspens. Pink skies at dawn and dusk. Solitude. Vulnerability. Wildness. My self.

A dear friend once told me he could see it in my eyes—they come alive in the red rock wilderness. As the lands and people around me grow increasingly tamed, I fear I will lose my own wild, human spirit. Every new cut, spill, scathe on the red rock leaves a scar on my heart. Every year we tolerate air quality along the Wasatch Front that puts children and the elderly in the hospital and blurs the view of the peaks that ground us in place, I feel trapped in a much more deadly smog—the smog of apathy, greed and injustice.

However, story has power to clear the smog. Our personal stories motivate us, but our shared story sustains us. Climate justice is deeply personal yet so universal—we all have a climate story even if we haven’t articulated it yet. In Uplift, young people find a community that dares to speak from the heart. We howl. We howl with the understanding that we are the daughters and sons of the Coyote Clan.

The organizers of Uplift feel a fierce sense of urgency. As Uplift Coordinator Claire Martini says, “Climate change is the biggest threat to a livable future in the region.” We seek to create a united climate action community across the Colorado Plateau that demands youth voices be heard. We see story sharing as a critical first step. Because it is story that unites us. It is story that makes us a movement, a community, a force.

To share your climate story and connect with other young desert dwellers, find a climate conversation near you. For more information, email or follow us on Facebook for important updates! 

Dancing towards a Different Future

Originally published on February 29 2016 at

By Marcel Gaztambide

Growing up in the Utah Basque Club, I was raised among the high kicks, pointed toes, and spirited lunges of the Utah’ko Triskalariak—a beautiful bunch of bullheaded Basques bent on inflicting their silly clothes, strange ways, and traditional dances unto the world. Through participation in everything from small, local get-togethers to large, international festivals, I learned that being Basque is largely about celebrating your culture as loudly and as often as possible. Herein lies the secret to Basque longevity: our communities still exist largely because we make a point of celebrating our existence, and since traditional dance is central to most Basque celebration, it’s an important way that we grab hold of our cultural identity and shimmy it along into the future.

Stepping forward and back

Another consequence of this excessively Basque upbringing (besides always having a back-up Halloween costume) is the understanding that celebration plays an important role in preservation, and that dance, like other art forms, can be mysteriously powerful.

Terry Tempest Williams offered an important sentiment when she told me that although conservation is often considered a fight, she prefers to think of it as a dance. She explained that the problem with calling something a “fight” is that it presupposes the need for winners and losers. In fights, people end up wounded, feeling slighted, possibly seeking revenge. Dancing, however, requires balance, partnership, and trust, and it implies a willingness to step forward and back while recognizing that everyone is occupying the same space and moving in the same direction.

The organizers of Uplift 2016, a climate conference for young activists on the Colorado Plateau, recognize this idea as crucial in an increasingly polarized world. It’s something that we hope to employ in a new kind of conservation effort.

The climate dance

At a time when the world’s wildest, most authentic landscapes are at their most vulnerable, perhaps the lessons of Basque perpetuation and thinkers like Terry have something to offer. Imagine, for example, that when changes to public policy threatened the loss of our public lands, the reliability of our water resources, or the quality of our air, an energetic group of dancers would appear in practiced formation, persistently causing a ruckus in celebration and defense of their homes.

The organizers of this year’s Uplift conference plan to set the stage for this new kind of “climate dance,” choreographed and performed by a diverse community of youth that are capable of both emphatic celebration and substantive discussion. We envision the myriad young voices of the Colorado Plateau being uplifted in a way that allows us to voice our concerns, declare solidarity in our principles, and demand that our ideas for the future be taken seriously.

In preparation for our main conference held August 18th-20th, Uplift will soon be hosting a series of community meetings across the plateau, inviting young people to join the dance and share their ideas. The leaders of Uplift first became involved with this project because we recognized the need for better, more inclusive conversations. We can no longer afford to allow the implementation of policies that ignore the realities of climate change, the finite nature of resources, or the constant diminishment of wild spaces. It’s our hope that these meetings, and the conference in August, will allow for previously excluded voices to be included in the crafting of policies affecting our future.

So please join us! For more information, contact the Uplift organizers at or follow us on Facebook for important updates.

In wildness,
The Uplift 2016 team

*Marcel Gaztambide is an editorial assistant at the Journal of the American Chemical Society who moonlights as a part-time ranch hand, and Basque dancer.


Young Organizers Plan Regional Uplift

Originally published January 12 2016 at

By Claire Martini

Ten of us shivered in unison, gazing out over the House Rock Valley towards Marble Canyon. Though we’d gathered to talk about the warming world, November in northern Arizona was—clearly—still cold.

For the second year, young leaders convened at Kane Ranch (on the North Rim) for an intensive planning retreat focused on the future of Uplift, an annual conservation conference for young activists.

In just over four full days together, we dove deep. Our goal? To orchestrate a summer 2016 gathering of young residents of the Colorado Plateau. At the innagural summit in April 2015, our conversations were foundational. In 2016, we’re growing from last year’s roots, galvanizing climate action and moving toward climate justice.

Now is certainly a scary time to be young. Seeing Kane Ranch shrouded in snow one winter, my thoughts took on a historic air when I began to wonder—if my hypothetical children returned to this place in 2040, when I’m 50, would they experience this blinding white? Being young and chronically concerned is sometimes like this: a vague, constant gnawing anxiety. It’s one of my main motivators to organize.

Other Uplift organizers are motivated by preservation of cultural vitality, love of wildness and wilderness, the desire to build community, or the fundamental goal to protect inheritance of a livable future in this place.

Over coffee on the last morning, I cracked the spine on a writing manual by Anne Lamott that I’d been nodding off to for a few days and found this anecdote:

“Thirty years ago,” Lamott wrote, “my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he'd had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.”

It sounded like the climate crisis we’re currently in, though instead of three months, our predecessors have had three decades to work on sustainability. The deadline looms tomorrow.

Lamott continues, “Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

And I realized, that’s exactly how we’ll protect a livable future in the high aridity of the Colorado Plateau—person by person, place by place, and bird by bird.

For updates on Uplift 2016, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our mailing list!

Uplift 2015 Sneak Peek

Originally published on March 30 2015 at

By Ana Miller-ter Kuile, 2015 Uplift Coordinator

Have you registered for Uplift yet? Join us for an action-packed weekend full of workshops and awesome speakers. Learn how to use film for advocacy, hone your writing skills, and see how young activists are creating change on the Colorado Plateau.  Enjoy this sneak peek of the line-up!


Justin Clifton

Using film for advocacy

Flagstaff-based filmmaker Justin Clifton spent a decade curating film festivals before transitioning to advocacy-based filmmaking. Clifton knows film is a powerful medium for change, and his new documentary Our Canyon Lands calls attention to threats facing public lands in southeastern Utah. Learn how to create effective media with Clifton and enjoy a private screening of his film at Uplift. 



Nicole Horseherder

Protecting Navajo environmental heritage

Diné activist Nicole Horseherder works to protect water near her Black Mesa home and is co-founder of To Nizhoni Ani ("Beautiful Spring Speaks"), an indigenous environmental group. She has also worked with Black Mesa Water Coalition and other organizations to fight proposals like 2012 Arizona Senate Bill 2109, which proposed transferring water rights away from the tribes. She'll speak on the fight and more during Uplift.


Seth Muller

Writing as advocacy

Author and journalist Seth Muller's nonfiction and poetic work focuses on the Grand Canyon and Colorado Plateau. He plays with words, rhythm, and cadence to create powerful stories about the places he holds dear. As editor of Mountain Living Magazine, Muller has years of experience crafting powerful stories and will share this expertise with Uplift participants. Learn how to engage your audience and improve your craft in Muller's workshop!



Water & Energy: Taking ownership of and responsibility for our resources

Do you know where your drinking water and electricity come from? Who owns these resources? This workshop, led by Colleen Cooley and Janene Yazzie, will encourage participants to take ownership of and responsibility for their resources. 

 Join us at Uplift, April 17-19! See the full schedule of Uplift speakers here ›