The Couchiching Conservancy, along with many other organizations from charities to municipalities has a ‘strategic plan’. It is not a top secret document hidden away in a room as the name may suggest, but a guide, for how best to use our organizational resources to achieve our mission.
It is a document that, when done right, represents the input of diverse stakeholders and is a beacon of collaboration and consensus within an organization. I believe The Couchiching Conservancy’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan was written well, including members, supporters, donors and volunteers voices.
For me the highlight of this most recent strategic plan was our declaration of shared principles. One of these principles states “We seek a reciprocal, respectful and protective relationship with the land that provides us health and wellbeing. We recognize that we are of nature, not external to it.”
Being a part of the world, and experiencing life’s gifts is a common thread that unites all people. Locally we can experience nature’s gifts by eating a good meal, watching butterflies flutter around a flower or spending time immersed in and reflecting on nature at a Conservancy Nature Reserve.
Despite this common beautiful thread that binds us, there are still histories and actions that threaten to pull is apart. As Canada reels from the shame and pain of small Indigenous bodies being found in uncomfortable resting places, the LGBTQ2+ community celebrate Pride, and face the strides still needed for acceptance, and families across the nation have been struck by the terror of Islamophobia. In the face of overwhelming pain and grief, we have nature, and when I say we have nature, I mean we ALL have nature as a place to thrive, and heal.
Nature welcomes you regardless of your sexual orientation, religion, colour or culture. Because we are all equally a part of nature, it is a place where we all belong. It is our birthright.
Conservation doesn’t exist in a vacuum, we do our work, and focus on the diverse species found in our region, but we also care about people. At The Conservancy our supporters, donors and volunteers come from all walks of life, and we strive to make sure all feel welcomed, valued and safe. If you feel you need a space to heal from or reflect on the big problems in the world, I recommend a nature reserve. And, of course, we ask that all visitors respect others, and despite any differences, reflect on the common thread that brings you both there.
I promise, no matter how you identify, if you visit your local nature reserves – the mosquitoes won’t judge.
Courtney Baker is the Administrative Assistant at The Couchiching Conservancy, a local land trust dedicated to protecting nature for all future generations.