When people in the greater Seattle area say “the Mountain,” everyone knows they are talking about Mount Rainier. Even in the bustling metropolitan areas, the mountain is like a looming sentinel that constantly pops into view when you turn a corner or crest a hill.
Like most Northwesterners, I became obsessed with the Mountain while I lived there for college. People would greet me with a casual, “how’re you doing,” to which I would reply, “Great! The Mountain’s out!” or “Doing well, caught a glimpse of Rainier this morning!” Each sighting felt like a treat, like being in on a private joke or given a handwritten note from a friend.
The volcanic giants of the Cascade mountain range were awe inspiring for a California native like me, but there is something to be said too of the jagged ridges of the Sierra Nevada and Carson Ranges that surround the town of Truckee. These mountains aren’t solitary sentinels, each peak leans into the next like old friends with their arms around each other.
When I looked up at Rainier I was a solitary watcher, a college student absorbed with her own narrowly focused life. I was absolutely enamored with the mountain’s beauty, her independence and autonomy. It’s fitting that at this point in my life, however, that I look up at a ranges of peaks that are fused together, connected by valleys and dips and collectively supporting fields of snow and granite.
I feel rooted in this area. Not only is my family a short two hour drive from here, but the Tahoe region as a whole is full of interconnected organizations and partnerships. The culture here is typical of most resort towns with an obvious polarization between tourists and locals. But it is also extremely welcoming to newcomers interested in contributing to the community’s well being and future.
In November I started a marketing and outreach related position at Sierra Business Council, a Truckee non profit that fosters the triple bottom line: economy, community and the environment. My time here is funded until September of 2016 through various partnerships, and I purposefully took this position to gain hands on experience in the environmental field. The project work forces me to exercise skills outside of the writing world and grow in ways that aren’t exactly part of my linear trajectory as a writer. Yet I am interacting with movers and shakers in this region on a daily basis and I become more and more attached to this area as time goes on.
Both the landscape and people of Truckee fit my sense of self, my sense of place and my sense of community. I still feel inspired to be autonomous and capable, like when I looked up at Mount Rainier, but I also feel engaged and motivated to participate in community events. In addition beginning to feel integrated into the office dynamic at Sierra Business Council, I have volunteered with local youth organizations, joined a women’s ski group and found my niche in a like-minded circle of friends.
My day to day project work is just a cog in the well-oiled machine that is Sierra Business Council and at times I am frustrated to feel like just another entry level worker addressing climate change. My work is part of a larger whole, however, and is greater than I often realize.
As much as part of me still connects with and aspires to be that grand and powerful volcano up north, independent and resplendent all on her own, these days I am cheered to be among a range of fellows, be they in the Climate Planning department here in my office or the Tahoe region in general. Collective progress and support is a satisfying thing. It makes me love living in Truckee almost as much as the great view does.