Deb Thomas
   What do you do for a living?     Energy Consultant/Community Organizer.  I work with people and communities who are impacted by fossil fuels exploration and development.     How did you come to do what you do?     In 2000 oil and gas development started on state land adjacent to my husband and my property.  Consequently, our home, property and community are severely impacted by the development.  Groundwater/aquifer contamination, air quality issues from emissions, serious health conditions and diminished property values are among the impacts.
   When do you feel the most yourself? Why?     Good question!  My idea of self has definitely changed through the years.  Even though my basic values have stayed the same, how I see and feel myself is different than it was 10, 20, 30… years ago.  As I age I appreciate more about who I am and understand more about how important the ability to change is.  Even though it is often difficult, I try to embrace change.  In addition, I feel differently in different situations.  So, I think I feel “myself” in one way when I’m alone, and a different way when I’m with friends and family, when I’m working, or in a public situation.  It sounds a little schizophrenic, but I don’t think I’m more myself in any one situation.     When do you feel the least yourself? Why?     My work can be confrontational, so the way I am and feel in work situations is often more guarded than when I’m in a non-work environment.  But again, I wouldn’t say I feel least myself; just a different version of myself.     Describe one thing you love about yourself, and why:     My curiosity and desire to learn.  The longer I live, the more I want to learn and understand about the world around me and what makes it tick.  I’m not very patient and hate being bored, so maybe constant stimulation keeps boredom at bay.
   What don’t you love about yourself and why?     My ego.  It causes me to speak and act before I think.  It also inhibits the ability to recognize what’s really going on around me.     Describe your greatest  professional  achievement:     Helping to stop oil and gas development on the Shoshone National Forest.     Describe your greatest  personal  achievement:     Having our son, Quinn…being a mother.
   Describe an experience that made you feel extreme discomfort and vulnerability:     When I was in my early 20s, I slapped a man in a bar that made an inappropriate comment about a previous situation I’d been involved in.  He slapped me back.  I was in the bar with several friends, male and female.  No one came to my rescue.     What kept you going after that experience?     Time and reflection about what had really happened, and who was really at fault.     Looking back, do you find that experience valuable? Why?     When the disagreement happened, I felt that my friends had not been supportive or protective of me.  I felt like they didn’t value me.  What I realized later was that no-one had time to act, nor did they hear the conversation between the man and me.  It helped me understand how quickly events happen and how important it is to not act on impulse.  It was also a very important lesson about how violence escalates and why it doesn’t solve problems.
   Describe an experience when you felt incompetent, and why you felt that way:     My first time lobbying at the Wyoming legislature.  I had all of my facts and figures in order, and had prepared what I believed was an impenetrable case.  Our State Representatives did not share my enthusiasm, and did not have any interest in listening to what I had brought to them.      Who are you intimidated by? Why?     I’m often intimidated by women who I see as more beautiful or knowledgeable than I am.  I have a hard time with women, particularly my age, who are well educated and work on the same issues that I do, especially when they’re physically beautiful.     Name one person you admire and why (perhaps you know him or her, but you don’t have to)?     Dick Bilodeau, because he is the most honest person I know…often times to a fault.  Although it’s not always comfortable, being married to him has made me much more honest; not only about what I say and do, but who I am.
   Name one woman you have a girl crush on. Why?     Theo Colborn.  In her 50s, with children and challenges in her personal life, Theo went back to school and received a Ph.D in zoology.  She worked on the Great Lakes cleanup, the Clean Air Act, and became one of the most recognized experts in the world on endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  One of the greatest opportunities of my life was to intern under her.  She was in her early 80s and suffering serious health issues from chemical exposures, but still a force to be reckoned with.  Theo encouraged everyone she came in contact with and always had time to help people.  She provided some of the first and best scientific information on how the chemicals used in oil and gas development and production are affecting human and environmental health.     What in particular draws you to her?     Her persistence and genuine kindness.
   What’s a meaningful piece of advice you have been given, and who gave it to you?     Theo told me to never stop telling my story.   She believed that personal experience was one of the best ways to create change.  She’s right.     At what age or stage in your life did you feel most insecure, and what experience did you undergo that illustrates that discomfort?     At age 5, when I had to start school.  Until then, I believed the world revolved around me.  It was extremely difficult to understand I was not the center of the universe, and the experience resulted in a dislike for, and distrust of, authority figures.  It also caused me to hate school.
   What advice would you share with that former self?     Be more open to other people, and learn as much as you can from them.  Also, get as much education as you can.     Tell me something pretty. A quote, a lyric, a drawing… however you choose to express yourself.     Although I’m not religious, or even Christian, I like the bible verse 1 Corinthians   13:13  :    But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
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