The day after National Arbor Day our annual Arbor Day awards banquet takes place. The National Arbor Day Awards are a chance to highlight people across the world that are making a difference through trees. For the next few weeks we are going to take an in-depth look at the 2011 Award Winners.
But first I wanted to share with all of you the opening remarks from the founder and CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation, John Rosenow.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
I think Emerson was speaking of the power of intention. The good people we honor tonight, these Arbor Day Award winners, clearly made their decisions, and sent their intentions out to the universe — backed up with large doses of hard work and collaboration and love.
The results have included the planting of thousands and thousands and thousands of trees—and the triumph of the human spirit.
As we watch the descriptions of the wonderful work of these winners this evening, we will hear from an enthusiastic resident from one of the toughest streets in America, who saw an absolute transformation of her neighborhood. She said, “It all started with the trees.”
Actually, I would say that’s not quite the case. As these Arbor Day Award winners teach us, this work begins with the people—people who make the decision to make our world a better place, and embrace their intentions. People who have a vision of building a better future — of a grim urban area coming to life with a neighborly spirit, and with trees…of children whose daily lives are enriched by nature’s wonder, growing up to become champions of the environment… of a cattle ranch becoming a source of nature inspiration for artists… of mud-slide-prone hillsides restored to abundant rain forests… of urban forests rejuvenated following the devastation of Dutch elm disease or Emerald ash borer or hurricanes… of abandoned mined lands again made beautiful and bountiful with trees … of endangered species brought back from the brink …of small towns made vibrant … of broken lives made whole.
Tonight we are meeting leaders who bring people together and create new connections — parolees and the physically impaired and students and artists and volunteers and professionals and elected officials… small nonprofits and government agencies and large corporations… villagers in remote mountain hillsides and neighbors in small towns and tough inner cities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson also said, “The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Our thanks to each of these Arbor Day Award winners that you have lived and lived well. Our world is better because of you.
Starting next week we will begin a weekly series that looks at the 2011 National Arbor Day Award Winners.