We have suffered a series of loss recently in Nevada. In the space of just a month, three women who were smart, brave and caring left us. Peggy Pierce, a tireless assemblywoman, Sierra Club and labor leader, died after years of struggle with breast cancer. Jo Anne Garrett, who helped stop federal government contractors from shoving the MX Missile down our throat and then formed the morale and ethical backbone in resistance to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s $15 billion gamble to suck rural Nevada dry, died near her beautiful home just outside the Great Basin National Park, 180 miles north of here. And finally, Elyssa Rosen, who helped build the awareness of what the modern mining industry is doing to our state, died in a diving accident half way around the world.
It is perhaps just a tragic coincidence that all three of these committed people were women, and were conservationists, and had deep and lasting ties to Nevada. They could have been anyone. But the fact that these women stood up, stood strong, and spoke truth to powerful institutions dominated by men, suggests something fundamental about who we are. And why no one should be ignored because of their gender.
I cannot imagine the state of this state without them.
There are many men involved in the conservation movement who have challenged the supremacy of Big Mining in our state and national policy making. There are men who have been raised here or moved here and adopted Nevada, and fought for sound environmental law and community health, and thank goodness.
But together, these three women had the impact of a legion of well-intentioned nice guys. The three, connected via the loose network of organizations working for related goals, really were a huge part of our collective conscience in this state.
This trio put the interests of our families and our natural heritage above the demands for profit.
I miss them terribly already. I am afraid that in the coming months and years we all will miss their wisdom, energy, thoughtfulness and most of all, their commitment to doing what is right for the earth, for our communities and for future generations. I know there are women of power willing to step up to lead in the critical policy battles to come, and for that, I am very grateful. But to those women (and men too, but especially women) who will pick up the flag of righteousness and bravery, who will combat the corporate lackeys and purveyors of death and despair, I encourage you to look to our friends for inspiration, guidance and hope.