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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Alison Stevens
Pullman, Wash.
What I do:
I am the dean of Arts, Humanities and Social
Sciences at North Seattle Community College, and for fun I
read, take very long walks (three miles to work, for example),
and serve as treasurer of a nonprofit co-operative housing
I am:
An educator who decided to dedicate my career life to
ensuring the classroom experience is the very best it can be for
students of all backgrounds, and to increasing self-confidence
among high-risk students. I moved from the University of
Washington to the Seattle Community Colleges because I am
motivated by a desire to see those with limited options have
opportunities to go to college. My work is very rewarding;
however, the frustrations are mounting, as funding dwindles
and tuition dramatically rises in our state.
I am also someone who suffers from chronic pain from
hypermobility syndrome—something diagnosed only about two
years ago, though I’ve had back, leg, hip and neck pain for many
years. Hypermobility, also known as “double joints,” results
from an excess of collagen production throughout the body.
Part of the management of this condition connects with my
enthusiasm for the rail-trail movement: Walking is the No. 1
exercise option that truly works to improve my state of body
and mind, and smooth, paved, relatively level options are ideal.
A meaningful life story:
I took a summer job during college as
a waitress at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park
now also the site of a gorgeous rail-trail that was totally inac-
cessible territory at the time!), and had been struggling to find
a college major that really inspired my attention. So my sopho-
more year, I continued my waitress work by transferring to Big
Bend National Park, on the Texas border with Mexico. That’s
when it struck me: My passion was for learning a language and
discovering a culture that was so completely different from the
one I grew up in, but right across the river from the United
States. I went on to dedicate my college and graduate studies to
Spanish language and linguistics, and I gained native-level
fluency in Seville, Spain, where I met my husband in 1979.
My passion for the language has never subsided.
Recent rail-trail experience:
I find I can only drive for about
one hour without significant pain from my hypermobility, but
finding a place to walk for 30 minutes or so near the freeway—
often on a rail-trail—alleviates that pain and allows me to go on.
When I soon visit my sister Rae in Albion, Wash., she says her
priority is to get back to walking after chemotherapy. I plan to
take her on walks along the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail, which
connects Pullman with Moscow, Idaho, and an old rail-trail near
Colfax, where my mother and I walked 40 years ago.
Why I support Rails-to-Trails Conservancy through my
workplace giving program:
RTC is one of the most sensible,
economical and inspirational organizations I know of, offering
beautiful options that will be around for many generations to
come. My mother took me to a rustic rail-trail conversion in the
early 1970s during one of our adventures on country roads in
our area, and I have never lost interest in the project and how
much it can contribute to quality of life in so many states and
As a member of EarthShare, RTC participates in hundreds of
workplace giving campaigns, including the Combined Federal
Campaign (#10641) and UnitedWay (#0914). Designate RTC
this winter—it’s the most cost-effective way to give!
To learn more about workplace giving, call 202.974.5118.