For nearly two years I worked in the environmental consulting world, spending my days guiding junior analysts in their writing and communications tasks. After eight hours of that each day, I had little desire to spend more time staring at a computer screen, writing a blog article or tweeting about timely environmental news.
About a month ago I moved back to Pennsylvania from my stint in Virginia, to embark on a new journey in matrimony. I shed the consultant mantle, trusting that I would find gainful employment back in the capital city. As I wait patiently (or not always so) for employment, I am trying to fill my days with something productive. I’ve taken back up the role of freelance reporter for a couple publications in the area. I may even help out with some political volunteerism. And yes, I am making a promise to myself and to all my wonderful readers to get back into at least weekly blogging and more frequent tweets.
So here is my first blog post in nearly nine months. I may be a bit rusty, so please forgive. 🙂
What I want to reflect on today is something I may have touched on a few years ago, because it is something that sticks with me. It does not seem to have changed over the years and my absence. What surprises me is that Harrisburg, the capital of the state, should have a thriving environmental network given all the state agencies and non-profits located here, but it seems to be somewhat lacking. I went to the revitalized Green Drinks Harrisburg last week (an organization I had belonged to in years previous, before it sort of fizzled out), heartened that the group was back together. Yet it was a small showing (8-10 people while I was there) and no former members at all, aside from me. The people there were great: smart, funny, committed to the cause, enjoying great beer from Zero Day Brewery. They ranged in careers from Senate staffer to house flipper. What should be a thriving organization (as it is in bigger cities like Pittsburgh) is small and not well-known. Now sure, it just started back up again this past spring, so it could be just growing pains. But I don’t think so. I think it is suffering from two things, not necessarily unique to Harrisburg… one, people are too busy (or think they’re too busy) to spend time socializing and networking with “strangers”, and two, the environmental community likes to stay in its silos – one organization does x, another does y, and never the twain shall meet. There is not enough realization that by working together we can accomplish something greater.
So I encourage my environmental comrades in Harrisburg and beyond to make some time to network with one another, and grab a beer or soda with someone new, to help build up a stronger, more cohesive environmental movement where we’re not competing for the same scarce grant dollars, but are applying to grants together, and sharing volunteers and brainpower, to make forests where otherwise there would be a few scraggly trees.