A Message from Executive Director Craig Anderson

Category: Blog, Community Resilience, Staff, Stewardship, Wildfire Fuel Reduction

By LandPaths Staff

April 2, 2020

Dear Friends,

We miss you. 

We miss the hum of activity at a stewardship workday; We miss the morning awkwardness followed by warm, familial feelings in the afternoon as a group explores a slice of Sonoma County wildness they’ve never seen; We miss the potlucks in our community gardens; We miss, especially, the hundreds of elementary school students and teens who utilize wild and farmland as their outdoor classrooms each week as part of In Our Own Backyard and Inspired Forward We even miss the people that tell us we’re doing it wrong by email and phone! 

We are also saddened by the loss of life globally and locally, including Santa Rosa Police Detective Marylou Armer who died this week from coronavirus complications. Decades ago, while living on a Maori Marae in New Zealand, I learned about the expression “aue.” The word matches this moment: A time of heaviness for us all, and the first single phenomenon in our lifetimes that inextricably links all people on the planet. 

And yet, this is a time to lean in and for LandPaths to stay active. We have made the choice to keep all 19 (!) of our staff family employed through the crisis. What does this look like? Well, currently field staff are deployed largely to our nature preserves and gardens. Staff are focusing on the vital wildfire fuel reduction work that would normally be completed by dedicated volunteers, and providing access to food at our gardens and, with optimism, planting for a future harvest. We are also doing what LandPaths does best, working together to respond to community needs. This runs the gamut from distance learning for students to keeping us connected to each other and the world outside our windows through social media. 

And we must look ahead: We’re ruminating on the future when we might once again, following CDC-approved safety protocols, provide access at our preserves to household groups in need of fresh air or an opportunity to show love for the land through stewardship. 

It is also critical that conservation and community leaders look farther ahead and listen to the wisdom from young and old, as to how the crisis will shape how we increase the impact of our work after we emerge. I see this as more urban and community gardens and endeavors, like this, to increase food security; and more opportunities for our people to spend time close-to-home, in wild places, rather than venturing away. 

We’ll also be sending out some big news next week about more land protected forever and connected to thousands of surrounding acres. 

In keeping with a personal mantra of “Daily gratitude felt, daily gratitude expressed,” I find myself thanking the cashier at the grocery store, the doctor from Sutter who lives on our block. It’s similar to how, in “normal” times, LandPaths thanks the landowners who host IOOBY and Inspired Forward, or how we thank the stand of old redwoods for inspiring hours of walking beneath their boughs.  

I know that so many in our community feel that sense of gratitude  now. May that light impel us into an even greater abundance of praise for our wild places and farmland as we emerge from our shelter-in-place. I wish you and your family health and well-being over the coming month. 

Craig Anderson

Executive Director

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