Every night before I go to sleep, I take a moment to write down at least one thing I am grateful for in my gratitude journal. The gratitude jounral started as a tool to help me see the good in every day, no matter what challenges arose, however, it has now turned into a daily practice, one that I look forward to doing every day. Somedays I write about a big project or an unexpected opportunity that emerged that day, other days I'm simply grateful for the roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in. Somedays I'm grateful just to be alive.
Today my gratitude is rooted in the passion, commitment and trust of the four men and women who have chosen to journey with me down the path of Root to Rise. Root to Rise is a nonprofit organization we began this December and are happy to announce and share with our friends and colleagues today. It is our intention to provide permaculture education and empowerment through hands-on learning and experiential education. Root to Rise is a support system for our current permaculture education programs, providing in-the-world experiences for students to apply their knowledge, and it is also a place for new students of permaculture to emerge in our local communities, helping organize and collaborate on ecological and social system designs that support the resiliency of our communities. Root to Rise is also a connector, a weaver of the web, sharing stories, tools, techniques, resources, and learning opportunities to make permaculture more accessible and possible for everyone. The intention and vision for this nonprofit is huge - it takes a group of trusting, passionate visionaries to make this work.
And that is why I am grateful, because I have such a team at Root to Rise. I still remember the email I sent Christine Frost when I decided to share this vision. We've been friends for years, ever since we were planners at North Country Council Regional Planning Commission. I planted the Root to Rise seed in that email and waited. Christine replied immediately. She was definitely interested. And then the next day sent me a second message to say she couldn't stop thinking about it all night. Christine's professional experience in running nonprofits, planning commissions, and leading programs and projects for the Northern Boarders Regional Commission coupled with her big heart, can-do attitude, and passion to make a more beautiful, connected world makes her an exceptional member of the Root to Rise team. As Christine and I met for coffee at True Brewista in Concord, we began a list of other potential board members. Steve Whitman was on the list and I decided since I had to drive through Plymouth, where Steve resides, on my way home that afternoon, I'd see if he was available to meet. In his text he asked, "is this meeting going to require beer or coffee?" "Definitely a beer," I said and I headed up the road to meet Steve at Biederman's in Plymouth.
Steve and I met in 2000. I was at North Country Council Regional Planning Commission and he worked for the Office of State Planning. We stayed in touch as planning colleagues throughout the years and it was Steve, in 2012, who introduced me to the world of permaculture and then invited me back time and time again to study and share permaculture in a variety of venues. Steve and I have taught several permaculture workshops and courses together and share our commitment to local permaculture initiatives like the NH Permaculture Guild and the Permaculture Association of the Northeast. I was hoping he would be excited enough about this idea to join our board. I don't believe I finished explaining my vision and intent before Steve said, "I'm in," and then smiled and said, "and I want a t-shirt."
My next ask was of Audrey Crowe and as luck would have it, Audrey joined me for the Yin Yoga class I teach at Root to Bloom studio in Littleton that Sunday. Audrey has over 30 years of experience as a landscaper and was deeply grateful and inspired by the Permaculture Design Course she took with me about two years ago. Audrey has a special connection with our natural world that is sometimes rare to find. She finds such joy in the simplest pleasures in nature and knows the relationships, benefits and values of each species she meets. I shared our vision and intent for Root to Rise and with a big hug, she said, "I would be honored to be on this Board,"
My last meeting was with Geoff Sewake who I had the great pleasure of meeting and working side-by-side with in our permaculture design workshop in Littleton for the Tannery Marketplace. Geoff, at the time, was the transportation planner at North Country Council and has since moved on to work for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension as the Community and Economic Development Field Specialist for Grafton Country. I knew Geoff had a diverse background of experiences and passions as well as a keen ability to keep projects on track, focused and moving forward. We met for coffee at Inkwell in Littleton and discussed the approach for Root to Rise. He let me know that if he were to join the Board, his goal would be to challenge us to think outside of the box, to be more inclusive and to make the health and sustainability of our organization a priority . He was the perfect person to add to our team.
This team, this group of friends and colleagues, are the reason I was able to make this dream into a reality and there is no doubt in my mind that the organization is stronger, more resilient and more innovative because of their commitment to it.
We are happy to announce that we received our first grant from the New England Environmental Grassroots Fund to support our upcoming launch celebrations at Schilling Brewing Company and Rek-lis' Brewing Company in late May (see our events page for more details). It is our intention to engage with as many people as possible during those events, to begin building relationships and partnerships and identify projects where we can collaborate together. We have a few pilot programs planned for this summer and are awaiting grant announcements before proceeding. Our pilot program includes working with the OAKS organization (Organized Acts of Kindness for Seniors), supporting a permaculture student, and veteran of the Afghanistan war, who wants to develop community healing gardens for vets in our region, and a permaculture design and implementation workshop at the new Rek-lis' brewing company. We've heard about the potential of collaborating with our local schools to design and install school gardens, planning and design of green infrastructure for stormwater projects, and creating edible landscapes in some of our existing infrastructure in our local communities. We look forward to seeing what other projects and partnerships emerge in the weeks, months and years to come.
So I am filled with gratitude, this Earth Day, for the people who have chosen to join me on the Root to Rise Board, for the connections and partnerships we've already made and for the collaborative intention we all have to make our local communities healthy, resilient and beautiful. I look forward to seeing it all unfold.
Happy Earth Day, today and every day,
Stacey, President of Root to Rise Board