Trout Unlimited. Conservation. Sweat equity. Giving back to the community. Opportunity. These are all concepts that come to mind as I write tonight. From January 2016 to present day in Bellingham, there has been a small whirlwind of activity that has taken place surrounding these topics, which culminated in a well attended fundraiser last week - one which financially put our fledgling chapter on the map. Things have happened very quickly in a good way, and as we continue to gather steam, it is important to take a moment to reflect on where we are and where we would like to be.
Trout Unlimited - this nonprofit organization is comprised of roughly 150,000 members, across 400 chapters nationwide. TU's mission is 'to conserve, protect, and restore North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds'. Due to a TU and Wild Steelheader's United meeting in Bellingham back in January, the gears of change began turning towards having a local TU chapter form. Whether that can be attributed to the timing of that event, or the personnel who attended, or any number of different factors, our chapter ultimately forming several months later is exemplary of the butterfly effect. How awesome!
Conservation - as a word taken from the mission statement above, and after working for an Americorps affiliated nonprofit conservation outfit in Montana for 3 years, it was driven home to me that there is a stark difference between conservation and preservation. In layman's terms, conservation may involve some destruction (as in felling trees for fuels reduction, removing invasive species, etc) for the overall good of an environment, whereas preservation is the act of sectioning off an area to not touch at all. Trout Unlimited is a conservation based organization that has a 55+ year track record of fighting to both protect and restore both fish and their habitat
Sweat equity - after having volunteered at a number of different Habitat for Humanity events throughout my college years and after, this concept was routinely referenced on those work sites. 'Sweat equity' was one of several principles that H4H instilled in their soon-to-be homeowners, and the concept involved the act of physically putting ones sweat back into building their own house. Generally, it has been my experience that people hold greater appreciation and respect for things they have been directly involved in such as this, and additionally have the benefit and ability to look back physically at said work and reflect positively. This concept of sweat equity resonated with me, this thought leads me to ...
Giving back to the community - it's pretty tough to find a downside to volunteerism. What a great way to build a network, to share time and conversations with like minded individuals, and get outside and be in touch directly with your surroundings. With the project work we hope to get going soon, we will be helping to clean up local fishing habitat among other things, which will be directly and positively be impacting fish in our local waters. The rewards for things like this go far beyond the present moment - there is the definite possibility of the good deeds done now having a lasting impact for both the environment and future generations. This segues into ...
Opportunity - anyone that decides to volunteer with our new chapter has the opportunity to make a positive impact in our community, on the environment, and on ourselves. There is plenty to be done - it's just a matter of planning the work, finding the time to volunteer and prioritizing. There are already a number of stellar conservation programs locally that operate in similar roles in the community, but the more the merrier. With an inclusive approach and the hope to draw all ages, genders, ethnic groups, and differing backgrounds of volunteers and members of our chapter, anyone will surely find a fit in whatever the task at hand.
From the beginning of this year, many things have fallen into place to make starting up this chapter a reality - there are too many people to thank for these events transpiring, but suffice to say we feel grateful for the help we've had getting to where we are, and are excited to see what's next! I've alluded to future work events through this blog, and there will eventually be a full listing of chapter events on here, so please check back frequently (*you may also join our email list via contacting NorthSoundTU@gmail.com). Lastly, welcome to our page, we aspire to be as cool as the crystal skulls, and we hope to see you at a meeting or event soon!