If there were Jeopardy for activists, Amy Salisbury's take would set records. Juggling three full-time jobs-earning a degree at Boise State in sociology and gender studies, raising a young son on her own and presiding over the Idaho Progressive Student Alliance-Salisbury is a fierce defendant of human rights, environmental justice and political responsibility.
BW: With so much going on in the world, why focus on Idaho?
AS: I was born here and grew up here and did everything I could to get the hell out ... but I keep coming back. I owe something to this community and it's important to do something here. It's a strange place politically, but I believe it's fertile for change.
Knowing what you know, how do you deal with people who either don't care or would rather not know what's going on?
I've had a lot of doors slammed in my face and been called some pretty nasty names. People don't want to believe they're involved with anything that hurts other people. That's why education is so important. Americans think we know all this stuff-we don't. We're very limited in the information we receive from basic media. Watch the news and read the paper, but also go to truthout.org, fair.org, even "smirking chimps" (www.smirkingchimp.com). Surround yourself with people and talk about things-who is saying what, why they're saying it, where the information is coming from, who funded that poll, who did that research-wherever you fall on an issue, at least you know what's going on.
How do you manage raising your 4-year-old son and being a full-time activist?
He's my driving force. How can I look at him when he sees what's going on in the world and asks me why and say that I'm not doing anything about it? If I don't do something, there will be nowhere for him to be. We should be knocking down walls and talking to each other-using our strength to ease the weakness of others.
What is one issue you'll tackle during your presidency of IPSA?
We'll work with the Snake River Alliance on the plutonium issue. There's a hearing on July 28, and we want to fill the room. It doesn't matter what side of the issue you're on-just show up. We want to show the Department of Energy that we give a shit and want to be part of the decision-making.
How do you cope with the burden of truth?
My biggest struggle with being progressive is not letting it stop me. When you start caring and learning about what's going on, you could sit in a dark room and cry all day long about what's happening. But the work we're doing is effecting change.
What if your son grows up to be CEO of Coca-Cola?
I'll kick his ass.