Good November morning. What I’ll call the “3 Phases of Becoming a Steward” are Knowledge, Volition and Action.
Stewardship involves understandings, a life time of learning and some science. One of the most important ecological concepts is “Change.” There are imperceptible daily changes in nature like a new bud in spring or the gradual appearance of autumn hues. Knowledge can assist us in predicting when those changes will occur. When typically is the first frost, the first appearance of robins, the best time to harvest corn.? This information will come from books, neighbors, and from recording changes on a regular basis on the land you steward. Observation is the first keystone of understanding, and that is why having many “eyes” on the land is important to be able to catch as many sudden and long-term changes the natural world is willing to share.
Place-based knowledge is important because data and information will be helpful when deciding what is best for the land. Having knowledge about a place comes in handy for Stewards to help people think about change, which leads us to…
What do you do with knowledge? Hopefully understandings bring a sense of wanting to do something, which is volition. Volition is the will to act, to change. Examples of volition are: “Tomorrow I am going on a diet” or “This week I’m going to walk five miles.” That’s the pledge, the plan, but unless carried out, these aspirations can be forgotten and never realized. That’s why public declarations can be helpful. Announcements to family and friends that on a certain date, we will plant 100 trees or undertake a “Bio Blitz.” A Bio Blitz” is when you invite scientists and students and photographers and artists out to a piece of land where they record plants and birds, mammals, insects that sall how what’s occurring on a piece of land during one moment of time. Public events are great for turning volition into…
The most important component of Knowledge, Volition and Action is definitely Action. I like the AmeriCorps slogan of “Getting Things Done.” Processes and planning can bring communities together, but actual accomplishments are tangible successes, that can be a catalyst for future actions. “By Jove, we were able to work together to this restore this wetland; let’s start working on the one down the road.”
Having even a basic knowledge can lead to small changes. There’s a large sheep ranch owner near here, actually one of the last major sheep ranchers in the state of Washington. He has a salmon stream going right through his property, but he didn’t have that information. I visited him and offered, “What if I were to come up with money to fence out your sheep from this stream?” This was a totally voluntary proposal, it was up to him to decide on his own. He said, “Great, but I only want the fence to be ten feet from the stream?” I responded that we may need a larger buffer because we want to plant trees and other native vegetation. We bantered back and forth and in the end, we built a great fence, 50 feet from the stream, which is not where I ideally wanted to be, and not where the rancher originally wanted it to be. Yet, we found common ground and a small but important change to the landscape occurred.
Action and change can take place when all parties come together and agree. Sometimes it is better to be united than right. ~