HATS OFF TO KIM HEACOX: WRITER, PHOTOGRAPHER, MUSICIAN, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST
If you could rub Aladdin’s lamp, what would you wish for? There is a man in Gustavus who might wish for an avalanche of understanding that would end our destructive ways and uncover the knowledge we need to protect and preserve our natural world. His name is Kim Heacox.
Kim is a man whose loves are deep and lasting: His wife, Melanie; his close friends; his celebration of nature, and his passion for Glacier Bay. He asks that we be hyper aware, and that we do our best to protect our planet whenever possible. Kim’s motto in all his writing is “Change Everything Now.” He feels we’d best change things for the better and wake up while we still can, because, given the grave issues facing us, such as climate change and its evil cousin, ocean acidification, “we are sleepwalking into the future.”
Kim told me a story about a trip he made in 1979, after his first year as an interpretive ranger/naturalist in Glacier Bay. At the end of his summer season, he had saved about $5,000. He took a Greyhound across America, visited friends in Florida, and flew to Europe. He first visited Spain, where he volunteered for the World Wildlife Fund at Coto de Doñana National Park, one of Europe’s most important wetland preserves. A major site for migrating birds, the park is home to five threatened bird species. Kim worked on habitat restoration.
In November of 1979, he went to Istanbul. He was scheduled to go to the Soviet Union, and had all his tickets; however, on Christmas day the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and all U.S. tours were cancelled. So, in early 1980 he went to Bulgaria. There he met a dissident who had been thrown into a Siberian gulag for three years of hard labor because he’d distributed dissident pamphlets. When Kim said, “Really?”, the dissident took off his shirt and showed the scars on his back from being whipped.