“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
Arundhati Roy, Financial Times, April 2020
2020 marks a year that has offered no shortage of reminders that a reckoning is in order. The coronavirus pandemic, George Floyd’s murder highlighting centuries of systemic racism, and the climate crisis each drive home deeply troubling complexities in our world. It is a year that challenges any sense of normalcy and, I hope, any sense of complacency.
2020 also marks Friends’ 30th anniversary. Because of your support through the years, Friends of the Mad River’s foundations are strong, our work for healthy land and clean water is relevant, and we are poised to help our community build a resilient and equitable future. We hope we can count on you as a partner for that future.
2020 calls for appreciation, reflection, re-imagination, and change.
Looking towards the next 30 years, we had planned to launch a year of climate conversations in March, bringing people together to learn from one another and celebrate the Valley we love. However, the pandemic made this seem impossible.
But your energy this summer showed us otherwise. Across the digital ether, via Friends’ #madshedlove program, neighbors shared images and stories about life in the MAD River Valley and the waterSHED that connects us, reminding us all of how powerful our LOVE of this place can be. Storm Smart home assessments and fixes, tree plantings, Ridge to River cross-watershed resilience action, and Mad River Watch data collection were adapted safely and forged stronger connections among people, land, and water.
The community’s love of this place, innovative spirit, and engagement in spite of difficult circumstances are inspiring. Now, more than ever, a deeper dialogue and coordinated action to address the complex realities of climate change are necessary, and also feel possible.
Here we are, with the opportunity to embrace the interconnections of equity and justice for people and the protection of the planet, to walk lightly as we imagine the world anew.
Friends envisions weaving together diverse groups and community members to pause for reflection, reimagine our future, and build a shared vision of the route forward. We want to embrace this community’s creative spirit to work across municipal borders, organizational missions, business bottom lines, and personal interests to figure this out together. We want to be honest about our own limitations and biases in the process, to challenge ourselves and others to listen more deeply and to foster meaningful relationships that tackle systemic issues including race, class, and gender. It might be slow, it will involve Zoom more than we’d like, but it is the charge of our time.
We are dreaming big – how can we transform our community, not just to address problems headed our way, but to see the potential of what we can become together?
As this community navigates the ‘gateway between one world and the next,’ would you join with us in reimagining the Valley’s future as one that, like ecological systems, finds balance in complex and diverse connections?
Please consider becoming a member at this time – your participation, ideas, and financial suppot are critical to ensuring that, over the next 30 years, Friends of the Mad River can stand up for what matters most.
With appreciation, hope, and fortitude,
Corrie Miller, Executive Director
and the Board of Directors
Kinny Perot, President, Richard Czaplinski, Vice President, Sucosh Norton, Treasurer, Ned Farquhar, Secretary, Ned Kelly, Jeannie Nicklas, Brian Shupe, Katie Sullivan, & Matt Williams
Photos throughout for #madshedlove.