How grassroots advocacy has protected the Arctic Refuge

Grassroots lobbying has played a major role in protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling for the past 25+ years. Recently we were joined by activist and film producer Miho Aida, author and Trent University professor Finis Dunaway and social media influencer Alex Haraus to chat about just that.

Professor Dunaway recently published “Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice,” a book that examines how Gwich’in leaders and environmental activists transformed the debate over Arctic drilling into a struggle for environmental justice. Miho Aida is the founder of the environmental media project “If She Can Do It, You Can Too: Empowering Women Through Outdoor Role Models,” has participated in countless multi-media efforts to protect the Arctic Refuge, and produced and directed the short film “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich’in Women Speak.” Social media influencer Alex Haraus built a social media campaign for the Arctic Refuge that generated more than 6 million comments on TikTok opposing seismic exploration on the coastal plain.

Check it out below and hear fantastic stories of creativity, strength and courage in the name of Arctic Refuge protection.

MIHO AIDA is an athlete, advocate, author and film producer, as well as Inclusion Manager/Educator at NatureBridge, an outdoor education nonprofit. In collaboration with partners, Miho has taken her award-winning film, “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich’in Women Speak,” on bicycle film tours since 2014, riding more than 3,000 miles across the country and amplifying the voice of the Gwich’in people calling for permanent protection of the sacred coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development. Miho advocates for outdoor adventures that are rooted in environmental activism in solidarity with traditionally marginalized communities. She was featured as one of the world’s most adventurous women 2019 in Men’s Journal, as well as the recipient of 2018 NOLS Alumni Achievement Award and the 2017 SHIFT Adventure Athlete Award that recognizes the adventure athlete of the year who best promotes conservation leadership in the United States.

FINIS DUNAWAY is professor of history at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, where he teaches courses in U.S. history, environmental studies and media studies. He is the author of “Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images,” which received the John G. Cawelti Award from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association. His new book is “Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice” — a history of the epic political battle over oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, told from the perspective of grassroots activism.

ALEX HARAUS is a climate change communicator and backcountry conservationist that lives on the road full-time. He documents and shares his adventurous lifestyle on social media as a hook to encourage audiences to develop an emotional attachment to nature, experience it for themselves and take action to protect it. Most recently, he played an integral role in the fight to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, using TikTok to garner more than 6 million public comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in opposition to seismic exploration on the Arctic Refuge coastal plain.