While I was scanning the news for COVID-19 updates, I was surprised to see the headline for Mr. Whalen’s letter, “Land Bank’s Problems Predate the Amaros.” My initial reaction was, well, surprise. Surprise that, during this time of heightened fear and anxiety and global upheaval, Mr. Whalen chose to pen a negative letter about the Land Bank.
We all have our perspectives and let me be clear about mine — I am a proud employee of the Land Bank. I am the Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator and I support our preservation mandate. And I am grateful. Grateful that our local preserves are open for respite, exercise and safe social distancing. Whether it’s listening to waves crash at Deadman Bay Preserve, witnessing turkey vultures spiral and soar on the thermals at Mount Grant Preserve, or heartily hiking around Limekiln Preserve — I appreciate every opportunity to decompress with Mother Nature. During this pandemic, I’ve been detailed to the county’s response team and I’ve been working to help generate press to keep our community both healthy and happy. Recently, San Juan Community Theatre Executive Artistic Director Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey wrote a Hot Topic, “What if Empathy Went Viral?” This prompted me to re-read Mr. Whalen’s letter. I put myself in his shoes as best I could and I realized that Mr. Whalen is focusing on what he can do to keep a modicum of normalcy in his world right now.
Mr. Whalen has long been a critic of the Land Bank. He argued against renewal in the 2011 Voter’s Guide. And he has been recently attending Land Bank Commission’s public monthly meetings, but here’s where perspective matters: his take-ways from our meetings are not my take-aways. His are, in my opinion, quite skewed. However, I can still appreciate the question that he poses regarding support. We tend to surround ourselves with like-minded folks — a quick peek at your social media page is a great example. But, I do welcome hearing the “other” perspective. I want to thank Nathan for reminding me about empathy. Thank you, Mr. Whalen, for the opportunity to listen and to practice it. And thank you Mother Nature for my nightly tree frog serenade.
San Juan County Land Bank