Category: Politics

Hot Planet/Cool Athlete School Assembly for Protect Our Winters

Last week, I went to high school. I always get a little bit nervous when I have to talk to a group of middle and high-school aged students because I was such an awkward teenager. (more…)

Three Cups of Tea

The best way to get through a long road trip is with a good audiobook. On my last road trip home, I listened to Greg Mortenson’s book, Three Cups of Tea.

Mortenson is a fellow Minnesotan who traveled to the Himalayas to climb K2. After a failed summit attempt and a physically exhausting journey, he lost his way and it was taken in by the residents of Korphe. He watched the students diligently studying outside, practicing multiplication tables in the sand and dirt in the harsh Himalayan environment and pledged to bring them a school.

You must read this book.

It reminded me of a forum I attended last fall at the Hinckley Institute of Politics with Hussain Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States. Instead of treating the symptoms of terrorism, we need to start treating the root causes. In Pakistan, less than 50% of school age children go to school. One third of the population lives below the poverty line. Many people just there do not have any opportunities or choices in life like we have here in the United States. Without hopes and dreams, it becomes easier to recruit these young people into terrorist organizations.

Haqqani said, “The US now has an opportunity to reach out to the world and say, ‘we may be the largest power in the world, but we also have the ability to listen to others and work with them. There is no military solution. Some people you need to fight…but at the same time, there are people you need to win over.”

Mortenson has been carrying out this work singlehandedly. He has built or supported 131 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where boys and girls can learn to read, write and do multiplication and division. He just published another book, Stones to Schools that I still need to read. Please check out and support Greg Mortenson at and consider donating to his Central Asia Institute at

Christmas Gift Ideas

This season, while we are debating what to get for our friends and family, we need to consider the impacts our buying decisions have on people throughout the world. In our country’s current state, one of the only true ways we can voice our preferences is through our buying decisions–essentially, voting with our checkbooks. We need to look at the big picture.

As you are shopping, ask yourself, where this product came from? How was it made? Think about how oil intensive most products are and ask yourself, do we really need this?

Who made it? What toxic chemicals was this person exposed to during the manufacturing process? How many hands have touched this to bring it to me, here in America, and does the price really reflect this? Often, price and value are inconsistent.

Consider buying used. Thrift Town is one of my favorite thrift stores. It’s clean, bright and organized. In the front of the Salt Lake store, you can find antique and vintage jewelry. There are also great t-shirts, toys and other home furnishings. Craigslist is also great shopping resource. Look at an item to see if a little soap and elbow grease could clean it up and make it beautiful and usable again.

If you need to buy something new, try to find things that are made out of sustainable or recyclable materials.

Here are some ski and outdoor related ideas:

leki pole

Leki Project 19 Poles–

The shafts are made from aluminum and the grips are made from reclaimed plastic and rubber. They are 98% recyclable. They are made in an advanced production factory where recycling and reusing occurs whenever possible.

Smith’s evolve series:smith phenom evolve

Smith optics is now making a line of helmets, goggles and sunglasses out of recycled and renewable based materials. The goggles are made from 98% re-ground urethane, reducing their dependency on virgin urethane.

The helmets have a lining made chocolate evolvefrom Evolve X-Static fabric that is fully recyclable at the end of their lifecycle. X-Static won the Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 accreditation, which certifies the absence of toxic substances in the manufacturing process.


Patagonia Women’s Pipe Down Jacket:

The lining is made from recycled used soda bottles, usable second quality fabrics and worn out garments. This jacket is made to last and has a timeless sophistication that is sure to keep you warm (and whoever you hand it down to) for years to come.

To find out more about Patagonia’s manufacturing, check out this recent article I wrote for Skiing’s website:

The Future of Ski Clothing

When wrapping your gifts, use recycled newspaper, fabric scraps or anything you have handy. Also consider buying local gifts. There are many great holiday arts and craft fairs where you can buy hand made products that support a vibrant local economy. You can talk to the people who made the stuff to find out exactly what it was made with.

Finally, think about the end of life disposable of the product. Can it be recycled? Will it last?

If there’s someone on your list that you need to buy a gift for but can’t figure out what, buy them a pack of CFL light bulbs to save money on their electric bill, or a bar of soap. Small changes, like replacing your light bulbs or using bar soap instead of liquid packaged in plastic, can go a long way to preserving the planet.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Reflections on Obama from Japan

Yah for Obama!  I’m no longer ashamed to be an American in a foreign country.

Over the past few days, I’ve been making an effort to get out of the house and see and experience the culture of Kutchan and Niseko Japan.  I have been trying to meet and interact with the locals here, whether they are restaurant owners, skiers, snowboarders, diners and drinkers, practicing my Japanese as much as possible.

The people I’ve talked to are educated about American politics and excited about our new leader.

This photo was taken at a local bar, the Loaf Lounge, in Kutchan, Hokkaido, Japan:


I applaud Obama’s executive order to close Guantanamo Bay and show the world that the United States can respect human rights and uphold the basis of our constitution, the writ of habeas corpus.

I further applaud his pledge to uphold the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade and to reverse the ruling on U.S. Abortion Aid.  Why does it seem like certain groups care so much about life from conception to birth but then ignore human rights after that?

Here’s what Obama had to say about it (from

“For too long,” he said, “international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back-and-forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate.”

I have been watching international television and I feel a new hope for our country from abroad.  I left during a dark era of United States history, and will return back to a brighter present and future.

Jim Matheson at the University of Utah

Yesterday, I had a wonderful opportunity to talk to Utah’s 2nd District Congressperson, Jim Matheson.  He came to the Hinckley Institute of Politics on campus at the University of Utah.  After making some opening comments, he opened up the forum to discussion and student questions.

Jim Matheson is on the House Committee for energy and commerce.  Listening to and talking with him gave me new confidence and hope for Utah politics.  He believes we need a rapid transformation in our country, especially in terms of energy use.  He had enlightening responses on questions involving the economy, health care and the housing crisis.

Overall, he spoke to us, a group of University students, with honesty on an eye-to-eye level.  We hear so many politicians that speak at us, instead of to us, and it was refreshing to interact with a real person, whose nose did not keep growing like Pinocchio with each ensuing lie.

Here’s a picture of me with our newly re-elected Congressperson:

Jim Matheson and Caroline Gleich at the Hinckley Institute of Politics

For more information on the Hinckley Institute of Politics, including upcoming forums, check out this site:

In our country right now, it is so important to have these discussions and talk about taxes, oil, big government bailout bills, health care and everything else.  We are the generation that is going to be paying for this.  We cannot simply ignore these issues.  I have received some comments from readers who want to see more ski pictures and more talk about ski community events.  I promise I will keep those blogs coming.  But please, let’s open up these dialogues and keep them in our minds right now.

On another note, Alta is opening this weekend (Nov. 15 and 16 and then for the season on the 21).  Alta is doing a coat drive to collect warm, winter coats for homeless individuals in Salt Lake City.  If you bring a clean jacket to the Wildcat Ticket Office between 11 am – 4 pm on either Saturday or Sunday, you can get a FREE lift ticket.  So please, go through your closet and see if you have something you aren’t using so that we can keep those less fortunate people warm during our cold, snowy Utah winters.  I can’t wait to see everyone there!


Photo by Alexa Miller, editing by Chris Pearson.