by NRCM board member Tony Owens, MD
In Pilgrims of the Wild, Grey Owl (aka Archibald Belaney) tells us in his autobiography about his life’s commitment to ecological restoration and specifically to the protection of the beaver, a species which he previously had trapped in a subsistence fashion until he befriended two beaver kits, orphaned when he trapped their parents. In the epilogue to Pilgrims of the Wild, he writes in lyrical early twentieth century prose…”I feel that I am giving all the best that I have to this labour that has fallen to my lot—that I am keeping faith.” In today’s vernacular, we would say, “he talks the talk and he walks the walk.”
This notion of keeping the faith kept echoing in my mind as I recently snowshoed over a nearby salt marsh made all the more beautiful with our recent snow storms. Otter and fox tracks abounded in the fresh snow.
I reflected on my recent participation on a strategic planning committee for NRCM. Populated with staff and board members, we painstakingly reviewed member, staff, and board suggestions, reflected back over our 50-plus years of accomplishments, and strategically assessed the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Those discussions at times were complex. For me, the touch stone was always keeping faith with our mission of protecting the nature of Maine. Our committee emerged with a strong consensus and a robust plan, which the full board is currently considering. We hope to share it with you soon.
Keeping faith also implies a relationship. With whom are we keeping faith? Certainly we are keeping faith with our own conscience and those in our community who in the past have worked so hard and given so much to keep Maine’s environment strong. But I find myself even more committed to keeping faith with our children and their children, handing over to them a Maine stronger, cleaner, and a healthier place than we inherited. To that end, NRCM Rising is celebrating its inaugural year enlisting the knowledge, energy, and aspirations of the next generation of environmental advocates. I can think of no greater legacy than for our emerging leaders to know we were there and stood up to be counted when Maine needed us most.
So, there is much to do, challenges, and probably some disappointments ahead, but by keeping faith, like Grey Owl, “I feel that I am giving all the best that I have to this labour.” Thanks to everyone for your encouragement, support, and participation.