Here it is. The inaugural Director’s Cut. What is it? Well, ultimately, we shall see, but when the idea initially came to me (during a trail run, of course) my intention was to personalize the ELC a bit. To give you a better idea of who we are as an organization – what drives us, how we think about things, our dreams.
In July we officially adopted a new strategic plan, complete with new vision, mission, goals, and strategies. I’d like to use this first Cut to explore a very important piece of our vision.
In its entirety, our vision reads, “We envision a world in which every person benefits from a connection to nature and acts in such a way to ensure that future generations can do the same.”
Connection to nature. It is at our core – individually and collectively. We all came to this organization as lovers of nature. As individuals who have a profound connection to the outdoors. We all experience it in different ways – by climbing 14ers, setting up a slackline in the local park, spending hours running through the mountains, or fishing in the creek behind our house. But we all feel it. It. Alive? Awake? Present? Challenged? I think that varies among each of us as well, but it is there. And we know it is important. We know we would not be ourselves without it.A prime spot at the ELC to unwind, reflect and connect.
My love for the outdoors started at a young age. After school I was told to “go play outside” and that meant tree-climbing and puddle-stomping, fort-building and creature-catching. Some of my fondest memories of my elementary years involve my best friend, an acre of woods adjacent to my house in Virginia, and dreams of building a legitimate, girls-only clubhouse.
As an Air Force brat, though, I moved around. I had to leave that acre of woods and those memories and create new ones. And I did so outside. As a painfully shy child and teen, it is how I connected to new places, how they became home. I would find the wild and explore it. Alone at first, and gradually, with new friends.
The it for me was a sense of place, of belonging, of peace amidst uncertainty. Nature was a constant – providing awe and wonder no matter the particular environment.
And, as an adult, it remains that constant. It provides an incredible sense of, well, me. Of feeling so alive, so clear in who I am.
In conversations with staff I’ve learned that the it is difficult to put into words. The importance of it, however, is not. It is core to who each of us are and why we do what we do.
And so, we have all found ourselves at the ELC with the collective goal of sharing that connection with others. We know what it feels like and what it has done for us and we want others to have it too.
Yes, we know the research. In sum, connection to nature is good for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. But we are here because we have felt it and we believe strongly that everyone else should have the opportunity to experience it as well.
Connection to nature. Do you have it? If so, what is the it for you?