We are grateful for all of the people, hands, and hearts that have touched this land. For each of you here today, and going back thousands of years to the original stewards and keepers of this place, the Kalapuya.
At Greenbelt we are celebrating 30 years of conservation this year.
This anniversary naturally invites us all to reflect back on the people who we are standing on the shoulders of – whose grassroots efforts to establish a solid, resilient organization led to the Greenbelt Land Trust that you know and love today.
The Charlie Ross’s, Meg Campbell’s, Betty Griffiths, Bob and Liz Frenkel’s—we have been blessed to have a multitude of visionary leaders.
Now, today … we think of the future. What’s next?
I’d like to invite every one of us to pause right now.
Close your eyes. Go ahead, humor me!
What do you want for the next 30 years?
What does the Willamette Valley look like?
Who walks these trails?
Picture our rivers and ridges. From the Mohawk River, where I grew up, to the mighty Willamette that showed its power this March as it topped over roads.
I will tell you what I want for the Willamette Valley … I see a future where kids know the mud and the shade of winding forest trails.
I want to celebrate families thriving on farmlands, passing along an agricultural heritage from one generation to the next.
And, perhaps the most exciting to me, I look forward to seeing new faces standing up to lead the conservation movement—the next generation of Charlie’s and Meg’s, and Betty’s, and Bob’s. I’m talking about you and me.
It’s not going to be easy. The road ahead of us is more uncertain than ever. We live in a place where it is projected that 2 million more people will live in the next 30 years – that is a doubling of our population. We face the challenges of a changing climate, increasing demand for our plentiful water, and decreasing funding for conservation. The challenges are daunting and very real.
However, I have trust in this organization and, more importantly, I have trust in each of you. This trust gives me faith that in 30 years when I am 70 years old, we will be looking back and saying ‘yes, we did it.’
Yes, we balanced livability and growth.
Yes, we nurtured our natural areas while welcoming new residents to our Valley with grace.
Yes, we came together as a community, stronger than ever.
This is our opportunity. For every one of us sitting here tonight, this is our challenge. This is the resounding call that Greenbelt Land Trust is making to everyone this year, on our 30th anniversary.
As the sweet sounds of horns, cellos, guitars fill the air tonight, I, we, hope that you leave inspired—and ready to lean in—to set a bold roadmap for what we want our future to be. For nature, for wildlife, for trails. And for each other.