When the Wonderful World Comes to Us
On the one hand, it is easy to imagine how the lives of Coast Range forest keepers (benign woodland creatures) could be closed in and provincial – focused on only our small world. While there is potential for that, for the Hyla Woods crew we’re fortunate to be avoiding that pitfall.
Just yesterday the wide world, once again, came to us – and we were reminded of the importance and value of these lively interchanges.
Thanks to our relationships with World Oregon, we benefited from a visit by six eager and curious, mid career, natural resource-focused professionals from Indonesia. As their remarkable translators worked overtime, we learned of their lives and work in the forests of Indonesia and wrestled with the many interesting questions they had about our circumstances, goals and work. Rising above the potential barriers of language and culture, our worlds shrunk as we found that the core challenges we face are the same – “how will we protect and rebuild land health – while also providing for human communities well enough to allow them to care for the land as well?”
Over the past thirty years we have enjoyed and learned from visiting groups from all parts of the world, including Chilean forester exploring what can be done to better incentivize native, wild forests in a context that encourages conversion to plantations (sounds familiar?), French forest nuts keen to immerse themselves in the heartland of Douglas fir, and many more. Just last week an Irish forester came to visit and expanded our understanding of the history and challenges of wild forests on the emerald isle. An article he penned and shared for an Irish forest publication about his visit provides a window into how the forests of our region look through his eyes.
As we watched yesterday’s van load of visitors roll out of the forest and off across Patton Valley, we reflected on a common characteristic of each of these visits by international travelers; once the initial ice is broken and they settle into the forest and conversations, there is always so much laughter, good cheer and deep warmth shared. If we are ever feeling a bit down and in need of a refreshment of our faith in humanity, we need look no further than the next group of visitors. The huge amount that we share in common far eclipses any differences. Trite as it may sound, we learn much more from them than they learn from us.
And now Pam has her own hijab – and knows how to tie it!