Why that feeling you get when you see iconic American natural wonders is actually patriotic
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Sierra Club

In the far northeast corner of Alaska, with no roads going in or out, lay nearly 20 million acres of wildlife refuge.

It's the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest national wildlife refuge in the country.

Its goals are very specific: to conserve animals and plants in their natural diversity, to ensure a place for hunting and gathering activities, to protect water quality and quantity, and to fulfill international wildlife treaty obligations.


It's a beautiful place. And recently, Michael Brune of the Sierra Club was lucky enough to visit it.

During his trip up to the Arctic, he realized some important things.

All images via Sierra Club.

Contemplating the refuge, Michael says:

“One of the things that defines our country is the vast areas of magnificent wilderness that we have."


"These are part of what the American experience is."

"Protecting the Arctic is really about protecting and enhancing what it is that makes our country what it is."

America is made up of so many beautiful natural landscapes like this one.

The Grand Canyon. Niagara Falls. The redwood forests. These are just a few of the attractions that are not only cherished by us, but are admired by people all around the world.

Protecting them isn't just a noble cause, it's downright patriotic.

Why? Because these are a huge part of what makes America, well, American.

If this "America is our wilderness" theme sounds familiar, it's because you've probably heard it before. Henry David Thoreau spoke in 1862 of the importance of wild spaces left to decay and flourish.

When Michael Brune talks about wilderness, it's as if he is channelling some of America's great naturalists and most passionate environmentalists — like John Muir or Teddy Roosevelt, two founders of the Sierra Club.

Wilderness has been important to Americans for a long time. Hear Michael's voice in this video, tying our American identities to the wild places we protect:

Puts it in a kind of unique perspective, no?

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Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

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The Delta Baby Cafe in Sunflower County, Mississippi is providing breastfeeding assistance where it's needed most.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life. However, in Mississippi, less than 40% are still breastfeeding at six months.

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


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In 2019, the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada instituted a policy that forbids teachers from participating in "partisan political activities" during school hours. The policy states that "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."

The new policy is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus decision that limits public employees' First Amendment protections for speech while performing their official duties.

This new policy caused a bit of confusion with Jennifer Leja, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in the district. She wondered if, as a bisexual woman, the new policy forbids her from discussing her sexuality.

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

We've heard from U.S. intelligence officials for at least four years that other countries are engaging in disinformation campaigns designed to destabilize the U.S. and interfere with our elections. According to a recent New York Times article, there is ample evidence of Russia attempting to push American voters away from Joe Biden and toward Donald Trump via the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, which has created a network of fake user accounts and a website that billed itself as a "global news organization."

The problem isn't just that such disinformation campaigns exist. It's that they get picked up and shared by real people who don't know they're spreading propaganda from Russian state actors. And it's not just pro-Trump content that comes from these accounts. Some fake accounts push far-left propaganda and disinformation in order to skew perceptions of Biden. Sometimes they even share uplifting content to draw people in, while peppering their feeds with fake news or political propaganda.

Most of us read comments and responses on social media, and many of us engage in discussions as well. But how do we know if what we're reading or who we're engaging with is legitimate? It's become vogue to call people who seem to be pushing a certain agenda a "bot," and sometimes that's accurate. What about the accounts that have a real person behind them—a real person who is being paid to publish and push misinformation, conspiracy theories, or far-left or far-right content?

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