By Ashley Lodato

Robin Gleiser, Karen Endresen, Ray Peterson and Jack Berg and their trailing spouses recently attended their 50th reunion at Ingraham High School, an International Baccalaureate school in Seattle’s north end. Ingraham’s Class of ’65 (the fourth graduating class, incidentally) had more than 500 graduates, so it’s not totally surprising that some of them didn’t know each other, but Robin took great delight in making this introduction between two valley full-time residents: “Ray Peterson of East Chewuch, meet Jack Berg of Twisp River.” Despite graduating from the same class and living just miles apart in a place where paths often cross, the two had never met. It’s a small world, but apparently sometimes not small enough.

Some of you know that the Brooks family had a rare opportunity to travel to Kaktovik, Alaska, in September. More than just an awesome vacation to see polar bears in an intimate group that included such luminaries as Terry Tempest Williams, the trip motivated Erik Brooks to use his skill as an illustrator to inspire action through art.

Located on the Arctic Ocean, Kaktovik is part of the “1002 Area” — the coastal plains region of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The 1.5 million acres of the 1002 are not currently protected from oil drilling, but if Erik has his way, President Obama is going to protect the 1002, either by being persuaded to leave his legacy in the form of a vast, beautiful, and irreplaceable wilderness, or simply in an effort to defend himself against being buried alive by the onslaught of polar bear postcards that are headed his way thanks to Erik’s recently launched Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project (PPBPCP).

In his PPBPCP manifesto, Erik vows to mail President Obama five polar bear postcards each week from now (from last week, actually) until Obama leaves office 450 days from now. That’s roughly 320 unique, hand-painted, Erik Brooks original postcards, folks (not to mention $112 in postcard stamps). If you think that sounds like a perfectly persuasive pile of postcards, just think how compelling it would be if President Obama got twice that many, or 10 times that many. Or even more.

Fortunately for people like me, Erik has made participating in the PPBPCP practically painless by designing a template that will be posted on his website, so kids and adults who want to see the 1002 forever protected can download the template, write a postcard to the president, add their own polar bear drawings, and pop it in the mail in support of this special place. Visit for more information.