Richard Kahn’s Presentation

After spending the past 17 summers in the Alaskan Wilderness, Emmy award-winner and documentary filmmaker Richard Kahn gave a presentation that focused on his time spent on Alaskan rivers and the dilemma for Native people, whose traditional subsistence lifestyle has been transformed by climate change.

The Wilderness and Climate Change an Altered Landscape, Culture and Experience event was presented by the Keene State Environmental Outing Club on Tuesday, April 5.

When asked how he saw oil companies affecting native Alaskans’ culture, Kahn said, “It’s a dangerous influence because it changes the land from something that you live with to something that you sell. So it changes the subsistence lifestyle into a dollar oriented lifestyle.”

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

In terms of Kahn’s world view after undergoing his Alaskan experiences, he said he is now much more aware of the resources that he uses.

Kahn said, “Supposedly the most remote place in North America is 200 miles from the road and 200 miles from the village, so there’s nothing for 200 miles. And I’ve been to that place four or five different times.” Kahn continued, “You have to be at peace with yourself to do it. That’s probably the biggest advantage to it; that you come to a level of peace with yourself.”

A member of Keene State College’s Campus Ecology was part of the crowd for this event. KSC junior and sociology major Maggie Mason said, “I didn’t really know what to expect going to it. I thought it was really well done. I liked everything that he did a lot, and I like that he spoke it rather than having it recorded. I thought that was really beneficial. I also really liked all of his photography; it was insane. I’d hang it all up in my house.”

Mason said, “I feel like his presentation wouldn’t be what it is without his pictures.” Mason Continued, “You can paint a picture in someone’s head, but that doesn’t mean they’re visualizing it properly.”

Richard Kahn said he will be going back to Alaska this summer.

Setting Up The Event and its Affect on Cummings

Treasurer of the Environmental Outing Club and senior double majoring in environmental studies and safety, Braeden Cummings has also heavily immersed himself within nature. Cummings said he studied abroad in sub-Saharan African country of Botswana in the fall of 2014. He said, “I was there for five or six months. I worked on a game reserve. I worked with rhinos, leopards and cheetahs. So I was able to do that for an internship and then I travelled to Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe and just kind of back packed around. During that time I actually did keep a journal, not as extensive as Richards. I also documented it with photographs.”

Cummings said, “He inspired me to document my exploration out in nature by using a journal with firsthand accounts of my observations, my feelings, what I’m seeing as well as photography and video. I think it gives a full picture of what’s actually going on and what the journey’s all about.”

As for his responsibilities as treasurer, Cummings said, “It’s usually in charge of most of the finances but we have kind of a shared role. We plan trips, guest speakers and different events. We coordinate with the Solar Fest people and set up booths for that. It’s just organizing trips, making sure everyone has their med forms in, attend all the meetings, that sort of thing.”

Cummings said, “I did a partnership with Brian Rogers from NextGen Climate. He approached me several months ago and suggested that this speaker would be relevant to the club so we had email connections and we set up a good date. We chose during our meeting time so we’d have our usual members there, and then also announced it around campus. It was a joint effort between myself and Brian.”

Youth Organizer for the Monadnock region at NextGen Climate Brian Rogers graduated from Keene State in 2015. Rogers said, “Next Gen has a campus organizing branch and a community organizing branch. The main objectives are more or less to bring climate change to the forefront of American politics and to kind of create and establish a narrative in these communities on these campuses of climate action.” Rogers also said, “Back when I was a student at Keene State there wasn’t really a culture of organizing or environmental advocacy outside of the Environmental Studies department. So what surprised me more was that students within the past year are starting to become engaged and starting to actually take value in what we’re doing.”

Adam Urquhart can be contacted at

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