Part of Something Bigger

From NASA’s James Webb Telescope. Image credit NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Taken July 12, 2022, NASA’s Webb Telescope captured previously hidden baby stars in awe-inspiring images. Image credit NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI. Image license: 

Earlier this summer, I was feeling pretty small. The Supreme Court issued a series of decisions that took aim at many things I value – bodily autonomy, tribal sovereignty, and federal climate action. I started to feel powerless in the face of a system stacked against justice. Then the first James Webb telescope images were released, and I felt my perspective alter again. Thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky that to us would look no bigger than a grain of sand held at arm’s length. Light from galaxies that traveled billions of years. It’s hard to comprehend the scale of time and space. But it certainly confirmed that I am, indeed, small. 

I realized that being small is not so bad when you’re a part of something bigger.

Crag, our clients, our partners in social justice, and our community – we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. We have collective power when we come together. And we are part of a continuum of activists and visionaries working for a better future. 

What we are fighting for is not new, and we can learn from the leaders who came before us. Those who work for civil rights, tribal independence, and environmental justice have always faced setbacks, and made mistakes along the way. We can learn from obstacles and wrong turns. When one door closes, we climb through a window – or maybe we get out our tools and cut a new path.

This is true with the climate fight – while we push for better options at the federal level, we will continue to work with our clients for climate action by states and local governments. It’s happening with our public lands – we’re launching a series of fights to protect big trees and hold our government accountable for the decisions they make about our shared natural resources. In our communities we’re supporting local leaders who have long been at the forefront of the fight to remedy pollution where it’s being felt most. 

A gathering of staff and summer interns for lunch. Photo taken July 28, 2022.

We also need fresh ideas, and we can find them in our future leaders. Spending time with our amazing summer interns is enough to give me hope. These students are bringing intelligence, curiosity, humor, and passion to everything they do. As high schoolers, college students, and almost-lawyers, they all are driven to make a difference, and their energy inspires me. This work requires creativity and adaptation, and our team is up to the challenge.


Our Work Continues

Our work for collective liberation and a planet that sustains us all may never be done, but that doesn’t mean we give up the fight. As John Lewis said of the fight for civil rights:


Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part

John Lewis, U.S. Representative & Civil Rights Activist

With the strength of our Crag community, we will continue to fight on behalf of our communities, the climate, and wild places. For as long as it takes. 

Courtney Johnson - Executive Director - Crag Law Center

Courtney Johnson

Executive Director & Staff Attorney


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