Thursday, April 2, 2009

A revealing thought

The past few evenings, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the experiences that have come my way as a result of this project. First and foremost, I’ve enjoyed some beautiful places over the past few years. And a little pride in keeping them that way. But just as important, this experience has taught me a little more than I knew before... about a wide range of topics.

One of the things I’ve discovered—I think—is that the advancement of environmental issues should be less a matter of revolution, and more a matter of revelation. Issues of stewardship or conservation cannot be imposed on a people simply by piling guilt on the public conscience. Environmentalism is seen by many as an extremist element, thanks to the sign-bearing, slogan-shouting, bullhorn-wielding protestor that makes his way onto the nightly news. Chaining oneself to a tree might help the activist conjure up some attention, but it might not be the best way to unify people or get them focused on a solution. (Click on any image to enlarge.)

The more effective method, at least in my opinion, is in helping people discover the need for stewardship on their own. And the first step in that direction is revealing just how spectacular their lands, lakes, and rivers can be.

A while back, I had the chance to testify at a Senate committee hearing about an environmental issue. Before, during, and after that experience, I caught myself wishing I could take these two-dozen-or-so legislators, stuff them into canoes, and have them join me for a trip down the St. Croix River... or spend a couple hours on the Mississippi. I wished they could see, first-hand, the pollution they had the power to prevent and the great places they had the power to protect. Seeing these sites—appreciating the stakes—is the most compelling argument in favor of responsible behavior.

Since this project—and this blog—began, we’ve tried to share both the beauty and the beast; the great places we’ve been blessed with, as well as the pollution and practices that might bring them harm. I am reminded again that one of our most important accomplishments is to bring back pictures and stories of these gorgeous lands and waterways… so that others might enjoy them through us, and be inspired to get out there for themselves!

Like I said, I’ve learned a lot since starting this project…about blogging, photography, politics, education, public policy, journalism, pollution, persuasion, cause & effect, motivation and satisfaction. But of all the things I’ve learned to do, one of the more important tasks has been to become a messenger. I must continue and refine that practice. To notice and articulate for others, in human voice, the prose of nature they have not yet heard.

This summer, I must gather more of those great stories. And I should try grab some more pictures.

© Mike D. Anderson, Crystal, MN. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Rivers are all about stories: the good and the bad, of white hats and black robes, the wild and the contemplative, the truth as we see it and as others see it, the silent sound of an owl gliding by and the bugling-in of the morning by a sandhill. The messenger is a story-teller, something you are certainly good at already, better with every stroke of the paddle and each stretch of some river cleaned. Paddle on, Mike, and tell us what you are seeing and thinking. It's a pleasure to listen in.