Carolina Parakeets (JJ Audubon)
On Saturday I attended the Florida Audubon Academy in Gainesville Florida and was delighted to deliver a keynote address in the morning. There were about 100 Auduboners from around the state present. I wasn't sure what to expect as I was speaking with heart, emotion, and a deep faith in nature interconnection. My underlying hope in this presentation was to share with these people my hope for conservation work in the midst of heartache and overwhelming challenges, and environmental and species loss. My hope, or at least my opening to possibility, comes from the tremendous untapped potential of relationships in multispecies communities. I believe that humans evolved to both save and savor one another and our world, as well as to compete and to collaborate. In facing who we are, we can then use social intelligence to navigate difficult relationships and grow our intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. Just because it is hard, does not mean that there won't come a time when birds will fly free as we too sense the liberating joy of loving one another. I ended the presentation with my answer to the question, "what are we for?" I said that for me it is an urgent sense that we must love another or die.
In many ways I was "preaching to the choir." Yes I knew these folks loved birds and probably faced sadness and despair in their work. What I didn't know was how close they were to the passion of their work that comes from their intense love of this world, and how close they were to their feelings of both joy and loss. They expressed to me after the presentation how much they wished to reenage with renewed vigor, despite the challenges. In hearing of their work, and their willingness to risk failure and frustration, I came away strengthened and reaffirmed that we need to think alike to love alike. The force of this love may help us partner with one another in unknown, creative ways that may yet be the saving of this beloved planet. Thank you Florida Audubon for the depth of your commitment, and to Jacqui Sulek and Joyce King for inviting me and hosting the conference along with Alachua Audubon, Marion Audubon, Four Rivers Audubon, and Santa Fe Audubon.