A Message to the Friends Community from the President of the Board
Many of you have asked me to reflect upon the course of the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah. As Board Chair, it does seem that I have a unique perspective. To begin, addressing the beauty and function of non-profits while also understanding the challenges is important. Non-profits serve the common good where private industry can't profit and government agencies are unable to meet the needs of our community. Our particular non-profit, Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah, manages and cares for a vast landscape that serves many communities, human and otherwise: plant communities; animals that inhabit such places; various interconnected ecosystems; and the people who respect and enjoy the greater Mt. Pisgah area. People retreat to, bask in, seek solace, and gain renewed strength to take on the challenges of one's life within our natural areas. During my twenty or so years in Oregon, Buford Park has remained a true gem- something so vast, so easily accessible, so varied in its space. This is something I know you understand if you are reading this.
I am amazed by the volunteers and staff members who steward the 2,400 acre landscape within the Park boundaries, in addition to another 2,400 acres in the surrounding area. Nature cares little about lines on a map. To truly care for and create a healthy park requires the communities around us to also remain healthy and vibrant. Our volunteers and staff lean into discomfort, embrace challenges and apply their talents so our community can thrive. To care for and manage such a space, with our small band of intrepid staff and volunteers is a monumental task. Without their dedication and commitment, we would not have such a jewel. As I have watched, worked and enjoyed the continued growth of the Park during my two decades in Oregon, I have seen great change beyond what I can express in this short letter. We should count ourselves rich and be honored that we have people of such upstanding nature, willing to take on these trials and natural spaces for the common good. I am honored to be around them.
Buford Park is in good condition, but the practice of stewarding a complex landscape can always be improved. As the entire world learns to navigate the effects of a pandemic, the change in our climate, a volatile economy and more, we must pledge our hearts and resources to a place we all cherish. The County is proposing a levy to support our parks on the November ballot, an endeavor I fully support and encourage you to support. This is but one factor in the complicated calculus of supporting Buford Park, the Friends and the work that we do. I am encouraging all of us to continue to give of ourselves, either in sweat equity or financial resources to continue to support our mission in and around the Park.
Another factor critical to our success is the broadening of our community. Please, invite people to join us in caring for this place, in helping folks to develop a deeper connection and joy for what it is and can become. I am proposing we find outdoor recreationalists, naturalists, adventurers, artists and enthusiasts to join us in this cause. Diversifying our community and conjoining our eclectic interests is pivotal to the future of Friends.
With the broadening of community, I also wish to reflect upon our reunion with Mount Pisgah Arboretum. Historically we began as one organization, and then two visions for the park created a divergent path long ago. We now seek to converge our paths and talents toward a better interest in the common good. Our two organizations complement one another in talent and resources. There are plenty of challenges ahead in fusing cultures, operational procedures, philosophies and budgets. Collaboration takes time and, at this point, we are in the process of due diligence to ensure both parties’ interests are provided for. As one who was a part of transitioning a school based in Conservation Education from its Alternative Education status to a Charter School, I can attest to the complications change and collaboration create. That process was two and a half years from beginning to end and, in reflection, not as challenging as what this merger presents. This is an endeavor we wish to accomplish holistically for all those involved and the future communities who will appreciate the fruits of our labors, though may never know its complications. I am encouraging everyone to remain active and engaged in this evolving scenario, while being patient. Many would wish this to happen quickly, but it is a complicated process that requires taking care of our foundational aspects and operations while also planning for the future.
As a person with his background in Sociology and decades of experience guiding teams through complicated challenges, I am aware that such a journey is as full of risk as it is reward. In this case, the desired outcome of solidifying one non-profit that is able to care for the greater Mt. Pisgah area, steward habitats and trails, coordinate events and people, is well worth any struggle we must endure.
I will happily keep our community informed, have meaningful conversations, and hear people's hopes as well as concerns regarding our continued work and our consolidation journey.
Thank you for your ongoing support and interest in our work and this cherished place,
Friends of Buford Park- Board President