Taking the Long View
Barak Obama’s forecast that the sun would rise on the day after the election verified, yet on November 9th as I looked east from the top of Mt. Richmond Forest over the folding ridges, valleys, wetlands, and hills of the Tualatin Valley toward the rising sun, I realized that while the familiar landscape looked unchanged – it felt very different.
Just as I know and value this place’s ecological diversity, I also appreciate the healthy political diversity of my neighbors. The success of our forest business and the experiments that we explore depends on many dimensions of this landscape. Uncertainty goes with the territory – for both better and worse – but the rising sun of November 9th illuminated a place with many new uncertainties and fewer certainties.
Culture – Like many businesses, our forests depend on the hard, careful work of recent immigrants; will their new fears be realized or will we find ways to help them feel welcomed, valued and appreciated?
Ecology – In this landscape that has been transformed in so many ways to suit the needs of humans, and where we and others work together to rebuild the land’s health and wealth, will federal laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act continue to advance this process?
Climate, Atmospheric – Human driven climate change is already impacting our forests’ health; what impact will the newly elected have on our ability to change course on climate alteration before it is too late?
Climate, Human – Our years in this valley have shown us how kind, respectful, honest, and good hearted so many of our neighbors are; how will this fair in a national environment shaped by a president and his followers who consistently demonstrate hate, intolerance, fear, and intellectual dishonesty?
This election rocks the world that we and our businesses work within. How should we respond? It seems that we should respond in at least two ways:
- As prudent business owners and as citizens we should be ready and willing to stand up and fight for those things that are important to us, and
- We should apply the lessons taught by the forest by taking the long view.
Our forests are increasingly islands surrounded by a sea of young plantations whose owners normally clear cut their trees when that reach the age of forty years that is considered to be “economic maturity”. The November 9th rising sun shines on a land whose ecology and human culture both run long and deep. We’re reminded of this by the eyes of the pictographs that have looked out from the cliffs across the valley for many thousands of years. The photo below and the huge stumps in our forest reminds us that while elections may get us worked up and amplify uncertainties we’re just ignorant newcomers flopping around in a place with a deep, long and remarkable past. The photo, taken on the central Oregon coast, just over the hill from Mt. Richmond, shows the stump of a tree that was cut in the 1920s and sprouted in 580 BC intertwined with and nourished by a tree that sprouted in roughly 2600 BC.
Yes, it is in our business interest to pay attention and resist changes that threaten our interests – but our forests also teach us the wisdom of taking the long view.