I never cease to be amazed by the internet and computers. Every once in a while, I Google my name just to see what comes up. I did so recently and found a newspaper article in the Daytona Beach paper where I had given an interview, which I had totally forgotten about, and never did read the actual article itself. Well, 33 years later I finally got to read the article. You can read it, too, it is actually an interesting article, from the time when I was a director for the Friends of The St. John’s River.
One of the most beautiful rivers in the U.S. was in danger of being polluted beyond recovery. Our group formed to bring attention to the problems; the condition, and hopefully reverse the downward spiral of the river. We started as a very small group and by doing interviews like this one. Going out to speak to any group that would have us we went from a small group of committed citizens to over 100,000 members that brought attention to the peril of the river. On occasion I would speak to groups with the Florida Biologist and that would carry more impact since it was not just a preservationist speaking but the State Biologist too. The Florida biologist estimated in 25 years the river would or could be dead. Due to our efforts to bring attention to the river corrections were implemented and the river is now more healthy and hopefully preserved for future generations. At one time I had been scheduled to speak to groups up to two years in advance. I believe I ate more rubber chicken dinners than any one person should have to endure. I never knew when I went to tell about the river if I would be talking to 5 people or 5000. All I knew was that we had to get the word out – and we did.
Thanks to the internet I was finally able to read the article 33 years later. For anyone who doesn’t think a small group can do anything or that you have to take bizarre action like chaining yourself to a tree to be heard, our example should demonstrate how a small group of committed people can make a difference.
I was vice president of a local bass fishing club and had noticed something was wrong with the river. I spent a lot of time on the river fishing and the problems were pretty obvious. When I heard about a small group of citizens that had formed in Sanford, Florida, trying to do something about it I quickly became involved. I was never an activist but I had seen with my own eyes what was happening and didn’t like it and knew something needed to be done. At first the problems seemed overwhelming but we were committed to stay the course. We refused to be overwhelmed by the multitude of problems and kept talking to anyone that would listen plus provide scientific reports that verified what we were saying. At first no one listened but then a few did and more and more. We slowly became in demand for speaking engagements and all of us were pretty busy meeting those demands. To this day I firmly believe a few committed people; even with set backs, can make a powerful difference.
So when I opened that article to read, realized it was 33 years old and I didn’t even remember doing it, I was blessed with a flood of memories. The speaking engagements, the interviews and those committed men who made a powerful difference. The internet is just amazing and to find an article from so long ago – I am totally in awe. I believe what is most rewarding is in that interview I had said the river would be dead if remedial action wasn’t implemented soon. Along with some slop over from nature the river is now a viable water way that should be around for many more years for future generations. So anytime you think you can’t effect change, don’t believe it. It is not only possible but doable if you are willing to put forth the effort. Don’t let small set backs deter you, stay the course and accept any help that comes your way. Especially if it is highly qualified people like we had in our group. 33 years later – just totally blows my mind. I guess I’m now caught up on my reading.