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A birthday bash to remember

On September 20 at the Redd on Salmon Street, Ecotrust celebrated 25 years of working together to make our region thrive.

Last week, I was honored to play host at Ecotrust’s 25th birthday bash, Roots at the Redd, and delighted to see so many of Ecotrust’s friends and supporters show up to our party! Not only was it Ecotrust’s birthday, but it happened to be my birthday too, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with old friends and new. It was also my first real chance since joining Ecotrust six months ago to share some reflections on what brought me to the job. For those of you who missed it, I wanted to share some of those thoughts here.

I came to Ecotrust because I love where we live. After spending the better part of 20 years working on global humanitarian issues, most recently for a decade at Mercy Corps, I wanted to make more of a contribution to the region that has become my home. This is where I met my wife, Bridget. This is where our kids were born. This is where we’ve put down our roots.

As I settled into this community, I saw that many of the global challenges we were dealing with at Mercy Corps — climate change, poverty, clean water, healthy food — were intensifying here at home as well.

I had a few things that mattered to me in looking for a new job. First, I wanted to help protect the natural systems that we depend on, and that make this place so special — the forests, the rivers, the coast, the farmland. But wanted to do that in a way that helped all people make a durable, dignified living.

And on top of all that, I wanted to work with the smartest, most creative people I could find. So when I met with Spencer Beebe and his team at Ecotrust and got to hear about the amazing work they were doing, I knew I wanted to be part of this.

But as I asked around about Ecotrust, I got a funny response. Just about everyone would say, “Oh, Ecotrust, totally cool organization — you should definitely go work there.” But when I asked them what made Ecotrust so special, about half the time, people would say, “well, I don’t know exactly what they do, but I know they are smart and they’re working on important things…and I love their building!”

Now that I’ve been here a little while, I want to make sure everyone knows what Ecotrust does and why it matters: From California to Alaska, we partner with local communities to build new ways of living and doing business, from forestry to finance to fisheries, food access to green building.

“I came to Ecotrust because I love where we live.”

So what does that look like? We have protected more than a million acres of coastal rain forest in this region, always in partnership with the Native communities who’ve lived on that land for thousands of years.

We helped create more than a hundred Marine Protected Areas off the West Coast — designed in a way that protects marine life while also supporting the coastal communities who depend on it.

And, thanks to Ecotrust and our partners, more than a half-million Oregon kids are eating healthier, local food at school — regardless of their income level.

We can’t do any of this without partners, and that’s where you come in. For those of you who are new to Ecotrust, I’d say this: please give us a shot. Our region is changing fast, and if you care about the environment, economic opportunity, and equity here at home, let’s find a way to work together.

For those of you who are longtime supporters, thank you. It has been a great 25 years, and I ask you to work with me, Spencer, and the team to make the next 25 even better.

Please consider making a gift to support Ecotrust. Whether $20 or $20,000, your donation goes straight to work on these urgent issues. The time is now, and we can’t do it without you.