BY Scott Koblyk
ON February 27, 2014
Poverty, illiteracy, bigotry, bullying, cancer, drunk driving, childhood obesity, graffiti, internet trolls, Justin Bieber. So many problems, so little time. Where to begin?
Like you, I want to leave the world better than I found it. Like you, my powers are limited – comically so in comparison to the problems that mean the most. Climate change scares the crap out of me. Rising political fundamentalism makes me shudder. Eroding societal norms for everything from table manners to golf etiquette make me fear for our collective future.
But I volunteer with the Bay Area Restoration Council.
And not just a little … I volunteer a lot. I’m on my sixth year as president. It’s usually a one- or two-year gig. Why this? Why this much?
Because this one – this cause – is a winner.
No matter what I do, no matter how much of myself I give to fighting macro-economic fragility, species extinction or the rampant misapplication of the apostrophe, I won’t ever win. I might win a little skirmish here or there but I will never stand triumphantly astride the defeated corpse of religious conflict or alcoholism, yelling joyously, “It’s OVER! You lose! We win!”
But it could happen with BARC. In fact, I’m now convinced that, if we stick with the program, we will win. There will be a time – within the next decade, in fact – when I will be able to stand with all the people and organizations in our community who have dedicated themselves to this work and say, “We win.” That day will be the day when the International Joint Commission takes Hamilton Harbour/Burlington Bay off the list of Areas of Concern on the Great Lakes. That day, we will win.
Of course, beginning the day after that victory, we will need to start the work of sustaining our success, even pushing it forward, but we will have that win – that most magical, mystical and elusive of prizes in the work of civil society. We win.