There are a lot of people looking out for the health of our environment within our community. The list of partners we have worked with is extensive and ever-growing. It is said that many hands make light work, and that has been seen time and time again with two great examples in the million dollar Big Urbie grant that we are using to make stormwater improvements and the multi-million dollar Watershed Center project. However, it certainly helps if all of the hands are pulling in (at least roughly) the same direction and if the owners of those hands can communicate effectively with one another. This idea of open and efficient communication among departments, agencies, and non-profits served as an exciting topic for our recent Monthly Meeting on the first Friday in May.

Errin Kemper, Assistant Director of the Department of Environmental Services with the City of Springfield, came to share with us the City’s Integrated Plan for environmental issues. The entirety of his presentation shed a lot of light on current a future practices that Springfield is rolling out, leading the nation in this type of interdepartmental cooperation in city government. One message in particular that stood out to me was the image of a dollar bill being cut into pieces.

For any department, agency, organization, or individual, there is an imaginary dollar divided into pieces based on what issues are deemed the most valuable or worthwhile. Of course we would all like to help with everything, but the reality is that it cannot be done. This leaves us all with dollars that are divided up differently. There is no inherent problem with this uneven division, so long as we are all able to see where our dollars overlap. This communication and integration will lead to more efficient uses of those pieces of dollars and make everyone’s contribution stretch farther. On the large scale, Springfield has been successful in cooperative efforts and pooling resources, both in time and finances, to accomplish great things. We live in an active and vibrant community that is eager to improve the world we interact with.

On a smaller scale, how do you do? We can imagine a divided dollar, or a divided clock, as our total monetary and time investments. How is your dollar divided? Do you value clean air? Healthy local food production? Swimmable and fishable waters? Maybe it is even worth sitting down to draw it out. I find it to be a powerful reminder of how my values can be categorized and weighed out on paper. Thinking of the clock, how do you divide your time? Do you want to or currently volunteer? Are you focused on conservation management, social work, stream cleanups, homelessness, or petitioning? Everyone’s clock will be different, just as everyone’s dollar will be different from others. There is no need to try and fit your values into someone else’s model, or for all of us to align perfectly. What matters is making our dollar matter, making our clock reflect our passions and concerns, and partnering with others whenever and wherever we can.

If you missed the meeting, I encourage you to make it to the next one. The meetings are held on the first Friday morning of each month at 7:30 am at the Midtown Carnegie Library. Please join us and see these ideas come to life in person! Thanks for reading.

Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.