In October, I traveled to Pittsburgh with three other Preservation Trust staff members to attend Rally, the national land conservation conference held annually by the Land Trust Alliance. This year, as always, I returned home from Rally with a few memorable quotes jotted in my notebook.
Two of those quotes seem especially relevant to where I am in my life, and also to where the San Juan Preservation Trust is in its 40-year history—both of us navigating through a time of transition and formative growth. Here’s the first:
“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
Keynote speaker Grant Oliphant flashed this quote on a big screen. We live, he said, in a moment when if we want things to stay the same—if we truly want the earth to remain a place where our children can enjoy something like the lives we have enjoyed—then we need to begin thinking differently about how we deal with some big changes taking place all around us.
What are these changes for us, in the San Juan Islands? The top three, as I see it, are:
- A changing climate. Hotter, drier summers point towards increased risk of wildfires, more pressure from invasive species, and degraded waterways and loss of biodiversity.
- Changing demographics. We must try harder to engage the next generations of island conservationists and connect a more diverse cross-section of islanders to our conserved lands and to nature.
- Changing resource demands. As we protect more island landscapes, we face sharply increasing demands on our stewardship resources—that is, on our ability to care for the land under our protection in perpetuity.
Our board and staff members are grappling with these and other areas of change as we formulate a new strategic plan that will chart the Preservation Trust’s path into its next 40 years. We’ve made progress, but are taking the time we need to ensure that all voices are heard.
My second favorite quote from this year’s Rally:
“If you see a turtle on a fencepost, he didn’t get there by himself.”
This quote, spoken by an award recipient from Montana, has personal resonance for me. Having moved with my family from Kauai last February to this very different, and yet also surprisingly similar island archipelago, I feel a bit like that turtle on a fencepost. I’ve been tremendously lifted up by the warm and encouraging acceptance with which you have welcomed us to our new island home. I am so excited as, together, we set our sights on the road ahead.
With heartfelt gratitude,