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North by Northwest

Inclusion. Such a lovely word, thought, and action. Recent Bulletin articles on Swarthmore student involvement in civil rights, being a naturalist, mental health issues, formation swimming, and beekeeping made me feel that perhaps I might one day feel included.

I did not get a Ph.D., did not work in academia, did not write a book. Instead, after a lot of wandering, I homesteaded in Alaska and started to seriously study Buddhism in 1996.

I built my own cabin by hand. (Sadly, not a log cabin, but I built one for the University of Alaska that is used every year at the Alaska State Fair.) I built my first house on skids in February without knowing it. In the spring when the soil thawed, the half on frozen ground sank, leaving the house 3 feet out of level. Back to square one. I hired a neighbor—a mason—to put in a foundation and went from there to build myself an “Alaskan shack.”

So, if you ever have an article about using moose to do your pruning; hunting caribou; getting through the winter with no electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing in a very cold climate; mistaking a black bear for your neighbor’s black lab and running out to shove it away with your bare hands, I will be right there reading along avidly. Thank you so much for your thoughtful Bulletin, and congratulations on your inclusivity.
—PANTHEA REDWOOD ’61, Palmer, Alaska