MSU Alumni Magazine - Winter 2017
MARIE ROSE: BRINGING SUSTAINABLY FISHED ALASKA SALMON TO MICHIGAN Growing up in Battle Creek, Marie Rose hated fish. When her family sat down for salmon, she demanded chicken. And fishing? Forget it. But today, her life revolves around fish. She’s a co-founder of Shoreline Wild Salmon, an Alaska-based company that brings sustainably fished wild salmon to Michigan. While majoring in social work, Rose advocated for domestic violence victims and feminist causes—work she thought she’d continue after graduation. Then she took a summer job at a nonprofit in Alaska and discovered her attraction to the state’s salmon industry and the rugged families who keep it turning. Her job with Alaska Center for the Environment had her speaking with fishermen about ways to preserve ocean habitat. “But I really wanted to get my hands dirty,” she said. After befriending veteran fishermen Joe Emerson and Keith Heller, she began working on Heller’s fishing vessel. The Shoreline Scow is a gender bender—all female operated for 31 years. “Women are claiming their space out there,” Rose said. “There’s a lot of intersectionality between feminism and the work I’ve been a part of, especially now being a co-owner of this business,” she said. But Rose, with a head full of dreadlocks and a strong, approachable demeanor, is proud to be part of the growing community of fisherwomen. So why Michigan? “A lot of starting this business was figuring out how to bring this resource that I had grown so close to up in Alaska, to my home state,” she said. Every cut of Shoreline Wild Salmon is caught by trolling—meaning the fish are caught on hooks and lines. “Our method ensures the best quality of fish because we catch and handle salmon individually, which also limits bycatch,” she explained. The budding business is working on creating a website and preparing for the next season of wild salmon to be exported to Eastern Michigan farmer’s markets. Rose loves her new life in Alaska. While it’s not as dangerous as Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, it still entails long days of unloading fish and packing them into ice, all while covered in fish scales and slime. “There’s so much humility in all of it,” she said, laughing. What Rose loves most about her new home in the Last Frontier is the seclusion. “At the end of the day, you would turn the generator off and you would see the lights dim and it would go silent and the only thing that you could hear were the waves crashing on the scow. There was no one in sight for miles at times. It was the most peaceful feeling in the world,” she said. ~ Catherine Ferland PATRICK HAWKINS: TAKING HEALTH CARE OUT OF THE OFFICE IN FLINT After providing health care to the people of Flint for more than 20 years, Patrick Hawkins was well positioned to see the effects of the city’s lead-tainted water crisis up close—and in places others hadn’t looked. His friends, colleagues, and patients affectionately call him “Doctor Hawkins.” A giant man with a heart to match, his faith and professional training compelled him to take action. Hawkins, an advanced nurse practitioner, now volunteers with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, helping organize free community health fairs to bring lead screenings, nutrition support, educational materials and other services to hard-to-reach populations in Flint. “Water is the one thing that can build or destroy you. Everything revolves around it,” he said. Hawkins, who is also an instructor at MSU’s College of Nursing, lives by the motto “everyone is someone’s someone” and strives to treat every patient like family. After 13 years of moving around the world as a staff nurse in the U.S. Army, he came to the Flint area to be near his wife’s family while she attended school. He fell in love with it and stayed. Nurse practitioners are qualified to treat patients without the direct supervision of a doctor. Hawkins had already been doing outreach work through his practice at Kidney and Hypertension Consultants, organizing free health fairs offering everything from children’s vision screening and vaccinations to blood pressure tests and health insurance information. “There are clients who might be afraid because they are undocumented, or not able to get to a screening due to lack of transportation, so we’d bring services to them,” he explained. Hawkins brings a deep sense of cultural sensitivity to the water situation. “After they found out about the contamination, some people were reluctant to trust those sent to help,” he said. “They’d say, ‘They already didn’t protect us.’ So, we would go through organizations where trust existed, like religious and community groups.” Three months after the crisis became public, he discovered that members of a Spanish-speaking parish were still drinking contaminated water because of language barriers. At a recent health fair at the church, Hawkins, clad in a white coat and brown fedora, functioned as a traffic controller of sorts, calling out over the crowd to direct patients to booths offering a range of services, and to organize the array of student volunteers from MSU and other nearby colleges and universities, all while managing vendors and supplies such as lead-fighting fresh foods and water filters. “We educate about how and why they need to filter their water,” said Hawkins, who was named Caregiver of the Year by the American Kidney Fund in 2015. “We try to give hope; I don’t want an entire generation of young people thinking because they were exposed, they are powerless, or that they won’t mature. As an advanced health care advocate for patients, that speaks to your core.” ~Nancy Nilles with Jana Eisenberg KAMINI PRAKASH: HELPING INDIA’S MOST MARGINALIZED TO FIND THEIR VOICES In her native country of India, Kamini Prakash advocates for people who lack one of life’s most basic necessities: access to clean, safe bathrooms. Much of India lacks toilets, running water, and sewer systems, and about 550 million of the country’s nearly 1.3 billion people relieve themselves in alleys and streets, alongside rivers, and elsewhere, Prakash said. Beyond the sanitation, health and safety risks, this carries humiliation and social stigma. That’s what Prakash really wants to address. India’s prime minister launched the Clean India Mission in 2014, seeking to provide access to toilets for all by 2019, among other goals. But “progress is slow,” Prakash said, “because we are not addressing crucial issues of stigma and discrimination.” The mission has still excluded some of India’s most stigmatized groups. Prakash works in New Delhi as a technical officer with the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a United Nations organization that spotlights hygiene and sanitation crises among the world’s most vulnerable people. To support Clean India, the council reaches out to groups that have been traditionally ignored, including girls and women, the elderly, people with disabilities, transgender people, and sanitation workers, to “give socially excluded people a chance to have their needs and challenges represented,” Prakash said. The WSSCC uses sanitation as an entry point to engage them, she said. The idea is not to speak for them, but to help them directly interact with government oficials, media, and the private sector, and speak for themselves. “We have found this to be a powerful way to enhance the voice and agency of these groups and individuals and to make them visible in the eyes of policy makers,” Prakash said. As part of her job, Prakash might visit a school for deaf girls to learn about their obstacles to personal hygiene. She explained that girls who’ve passed puberty often skip school during their menstrual periods—a taboo subject in India. It’s safer to stay home because the schools lack separate, girls-only washrooms. Consequently, girls fall behind in their educations, making it harder for them to improve their lives. Prakash also visited New Delhi’s fetid, smoldering land fill, Bhalaswa. Some 400,000 people live atop the 40-acre garbage mountain, digging for valuables, and sorting materials to sell to recyclers. “What I saw and heard shocked and moved me,” she said. “These people, mostly from India’s lowest caste, live and work in the most hazardous conditions with little protective equipment,” she added. Prakash uses the stories she gathers to help inform the scores of fellow frontline social workers she and her colleagues train. She sees glimmers of hope. Last year, for the first time, a sanitation worker took the stage alongside seven South Asian foreign ministers at a multinational meeting. He spoke eloquently of the hardships and health threats of his work, she said. The ministers agreed to develop rules “to ensure the dignity, adequate remuneration, occupational health and safety of sanitation workers, including those working in the informal sector.” One voice moved beyond the margins. ~Jana Eisenberg and Nancy Nilles
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