To my newest heroes:
Thanks much for the chance to tag along on yesterday’s Nelson-to-Buckingham leg. It was truly a blessing to be in (again) this beautiful landscape and to be with such a wonderful bunch of people. You are raising awareness of the issues around the ACP, to be sure, and you are learning a lot about the places, people and communities it will affect.
Most of all you are building up your connection to / passion for what I hope will be your future “good work,” as Wendell Berry calls it, of conservation.
I spent two spring breaks backpacking the stretch of the Appalachian Trail ACP would cross, learned to rock climb at Raven’s Roost, spent lots of quality time on Humpback Rocks, away from the books and with the dog and some friends, agog over a Piedmont sunrise or an Allegheny sunset, and honeymooned in Staunton and Wintergreen. Those experiences, now greatly augmented by our ride yesterday, deepen my connection to this particular effort and to the people to whom it matters the most.
Economic efficiency, or biological viability, or social justice, or spiritual renewal (Jesus, I submit, HAS been through the ACP route, as we joked about on one of our stops), or whatever your disciplines’ concerns might be, are all useful ways of looking at these issues. But your passion will tell you to look in the first place, and often that can make all the difference.
There are those in my age cohort in the environmental field — you know, people who quote Wendell Berry too much and get misty-eyed talking about the first Earth Day (which even I’m too young to really remember) — that there’s no one in the next generation(s) to carry on “our work.” WRONG! Or at least mostly wrong. It’s not a matter of carrying on *our* good work but rather one of doing your own. And you’ll do it differently, with more smarts and better tools than we could have dreamt of when I was getting to know this landscape.
It’ll be inspiring to see where that takes you after Norfolk, and if you’d like to stay in touch or are looking for contacts in the field, send a pm here or find me on LinkedIn.
Meanwhile, enjoy the ride — fewer hills from here on out!