2020 brought many profound and long lasting changes to our lives, our work, our world. Here at GHCC change and adaptation has been the byword — out of necessity we pivoted to working from home, honing our online meeting skills, revamping protocols and procedures, and going through a sped up process of digitizing tasks and documents. 2020 also provided the impetus for a change staff had longed for but just “didn’t have the time” to work on - finding a new office home and going through the agonizing process of moving.
The place we have moved to reflects our desire to be visible, accessible, appropriately sized to our new working conditions, and also, the very important benchmark of saving money.
It has been a difficult, agonizing, and incredibly time-consuming process for all of the staff to take what was a six-room office (not counting the small kitchen, large kitchen, hallway, storage room, and meeting room!) and stuff it into two smaller rooms. GHCC was in that same office space for over 20 years, and a formidable amount of “stuff” accumulated during that time.
I have spent a lot of time over the last five months, and especially this last month, wading through the physical flotsam and jetsam of the history of this organization, and thinking about all that it entails.
I saw that this organization struggled so hard, fought so hard, and accomplished so much — some of which we had forgotten or our current staff hadn’t ever known about. I began to feel my place in the organization in the context of an extended flow of work that began well before my tenure and was capable of extending far into the future past even the memory of my part of it.
I did wonder, as I sorted and scanned and shredded, does it really matter that the “collective we” so many years ago litigated on lynx habitat, fought to breach the lower Snake dams, talked about climate change, brought a wolf into the schools, worked alongside the tribes to protect bighorn sheep and other wildlife, and that a decade before OR-7 was named Journey by the schoolchildren of Oregon, we held a local wolf naming contest for schoolchildren here in the Greater Hells Canyon Region for one of Oregon’s first wolves (yes, we still have the letters from the schoolchildren). All of these invisible forgotten fights, were they worth the grinding hard work, tears, frustrations, and suffering?
The answer was a resounding YES! I came to a realization that out of all the sacrifice people poured into the work, their lifeblood, their heart and soul, the “collective we” forged — or wove — or built — or birthed — an organizational DNA of giving back to this place we all love.
The “collective we” determinedly weighed in against the destruction and degradation of the living systems that support all life here. We were the balance to that destruction.
In the face and opposition of all those who want to use and use up for their own aggrandizement, we created a DNA of reciprocity. I cannot imagine a greater gift to the future. That was, is, and will be very important, and well done.
“The days that are here are days in which we all have to do our utmost and be comfortable with being forgotten.” - Barry Holstun Lopez