by Dave Koehler
The winter solstice is a time of reflection and introspection, when celebrating the season involves quiet moments and inward gaze. I am honored that people share their stories about why they support our work. Listening helps me better understand my own relationship with the land and gives me insights on how we can best work together to achieve our common goal of protecting the land…forever.
To one friend in southern California, the land means hope and a dream realized.
“When I was a small child and newly immigrated to a trapped life of poverty within the confounds of Chinatown's cement jungle, whenever we could, my family would take a day drive out to the country — Petaluma, Pt Reyes, Sonoma, Napa, Russian River. We were able to breathe and take in the quiet beauty of hills, valleys, fruit and chicken farms, oyster estuaries..... it gave us hope that there was a whole beautiful world out there for us to reach for. And my siblings and I did.”
For some it’s about joining with others to undertake physically-demanding restoration projects. During five recent workdays, volunteers planted willow sprigs and installed erosion control measures, such as willow wattles, coir logs and deer fencing along Tolay Creek. What makes people work for hours in cold, wet, muddy conditions? For some, it’s the sense of family that’s created during our projects. We share stories and get to know each other better. At the end of the day, our family is a little bigger, a little deeper because we shared an experience and have a shared sense of accomplishment. We walk away with sore muscles, but the laughter, new friends and raptors circling in the clear sky above us are worth it.
For others, supporting our work promotes personal growth. Judy Scotchmoor, a retired UC Berkeley science educator who volunteers with the Baylands bird monitoring program and serves on our board, volunteered to make phone calls to follow up an appeal letter.
“I did this not because I love fundraising. I did it because I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone in support of Sonoma Land Trust. I wanted to grow.”
During this quiet time, we also look ahead anticipating new beginnings that come with more sunshine and a new calendar. What do you see for yourself in 2018? For Sonoma Land Trust, it’s a busy year with more landscape-scale projects that protect our county’s natural resources. To do big projects like the ones we have in mind, we need lots of help.
This winter, we wish you time to look within, rest and anticipate the growth coming in the spring. I invite you to contact us and share your thoughts. Is it hope for a more beautiful world, more time to spend in nature, an opportunity to push beyond your comfort zone, or something else? Whatever it may be, let’s talk and figure out what we can accomplish together.
There’s one more thing we invite you to consider this winter: Please make a contribution to Sonoma Land Trust by December 31 and help us reach our $2 million year-end challenge. You can ensure our beloved places are protected for generations yet to come.
Dave Koehler is Sonoma Land Trust's executive director.
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.