Sojourners Magazine: January 2012
Authors offer many reasons why they’re late on a deadline, but this issue we heard what may be the most impressive one yet from writer Denali DeGraf.
DeGraf has long and deep connections to Sojourners. His father, Scot, was our circulation director for many years, his mother, Linda, worked in our art department, and the family was part of our extended community when Denali was born. (Denali has written for us once before: As a high school freshman in 1995, he reviewed the card game Magic: The Gathering.) When Denali was a student at Stanford, he traveled to Santiago, Chile, as part of the university’s overseas studies program. While there he visited the Patagonia region of Argentina, fell in love with the place, and has lived there for most of the years since.
This summer, as he was approaching a deadline on his article on indigenous efforts to resist open-pit mining in the region, Denali was required to travel back to Chile to take care of some immigration paperwork. His usual passage across the Andes was blocked by the eruption of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in June, extending his trip and making it difficult to get his article done by the assigned time. We’re pretty sure this is the first time we’ve heard the “volcano ate my homework” excuse. (We would have been less impressed with his originality if he had waited until this fall and used the arrival of his newborn daughter, Anjali, as a rationale for delay—that one we’ve heard before!)
We’re glad Denali was able to overcome obstacles, natural and otherwise, to tell the important story of a community rising up to meet grave threats to their environment, and the role that people of faith are playing in those efforts. Such stories give us a glimpse of the often-latent strength inherent in seemingly outmatched communities and help us understand the power waiting to be unleashed by people coming together in common cause