Friday, May 18, 2012

My Natural Inclination

On May 18th, 1987, I arrived at Clean Water Action in Washington, D.C. for my observation day. An observation day is basically a second interview where you spend the day with a trainer watching them do their job and trying it out for yourself. It is an opportunity for the trainer to decide if you have what it takes to go door-to-door talking to people about the environment, asking people to get involved and contribute to the organization. It is not a job everyone is cut out for. But I had discovered I had a talent for asking people for money on a brief stint raising money for George H.W. Bush. I'm sure they thought I was a spy. My roommate and I would rescue stamps from the stamp machine that the campaign decided couldn't be used because they got tattered. So I went out on my observation day confident I could do the job. Besides it was for a good cause, something I really believed in.

Blue Jay by Kenny Cole
When I arrived they had forgotten that my appointment was scheduled for that day. After a bit of shuffling, I went out in the crew with my trainer, Pete Northup. The area we were canvassing was a combination of middle-class townhouse development and subsidized housing. I will never forget one house we went to had a prosthetic leg hanging from the tree outside "airing out" we later learned. I can't remember exactly what the issue was we were working on at the time but I do remember people were supportive, of course that wasn't the case across the board. If it were, I doubt we would need so many non-profit citizen based organizations keeping politicians and big business in line.

I went on to become a trainer, manager then Canvass Director. I was able to help start up Clean Water's first office in Texas, to work for the California League of Conservation Voter, and even helped start a canvass for the Alaska Center for the Environment. My years actively involved in environmental issues were transformative. I met some of my very best friends, learned how to manage people and best of all learned that a group of determined individuals can gather enough public support to accomplish almost anything. So here we are 25 years later and I am celebrating both my 25 year anniversary and my two year anniversary of opening Monkitree with a show to benefit the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I'm no longer knocking on doors but I can still do what I can to help!

Natural Inclination
May18-July 20, 2012

263 Water Street
Gardiner, Maine 04345