Chairman’s Letter: Reflection and Foresight
By Ed Samek
Fall 2014 Friends of Acadia Journal
I remember when my wife and I took our first trip to Europe. We were in our twenties and wide-eyed. We passed a second-hand furniture store in London and I exclaimed, “I see that what we call antiques in America they call used furniture here!” A little later we were sitting in a city park—Hyde Park, I think—and gazing up at the towering trees that had obviously been in place for many decades, if not a century or more. I realized how fortunate we were to be enjoying these trees, and that those who planted them were in an important way our benefactors.
Both of these experiences were moments of reflection—stepping back and seeing things in a wider perspective than just the current moment. Reflection helps inform human vision and foresight. That is, looking back helps us to look ahead.
Sitting under those magnificent trees, the light went on! It became clear to me that much of our experience, for better or for worse, is significantly the result of the works of those who came before us, each building one upon another on the accomplishments and achievements (or mistakes and disasters!) that came before them.
We are truly part of a continuum. We are the beneficiaries of those who preceded us and, whether we are conscious of it or not, we are the benefactors who will create, modify, ignore, damage, enhance, influence and, I hope, improve in so many ways the world that those who will follow us—our beneficiaries—will experience. Then our beneficiaries will become the benefactors, and so it will continue on and on.
Today, as a part of Friends of Acadia, I have joined in the task of caring for this special place as someone once cared for that park in London. I—along with everyone who enjoys, lives near, visits, recreates in, and is inspired by Acadia National Park—am the beneficiary of the inspired individuals who created Acadia, who gave generously of land, resources, money, time, and love; and the many who continued to support, protect, and preserve the park. Those who cared and care about the trails, the carriage roads, the plant life, the clean air and waters, the peaceful nooks, the majestic vistas, and the myriad other resources we appreciate so deeply.
A decade or a century and more from now, how will Acadia look to our beneficiaries? Will they be grateful for the gift of fine trails and carriage roads, but dismayed not to hear seasonal warblers singing in Acadia’s forests or puzzled as to why, when the opportunity was there, we did nothing about congestion in the park? Will they have to reserve in advance to drive up Cadillac? Or might they see no children or young families visiting the park? No! If we, as today’s stewards of Acadia National Park, have the foresight to anticipate the challenges and the opportunities around the bend and tackle them as effectively as the challenges we’ve already faced, then we can feel confident our beneficiaries will enjoy the same Acadia experience that we do—and will be inspired to pass along that gift. And a great gift it is, indeed.
Many of our readers know that Friends of Acadia is developing programs to support a carefully thought-out strategic plan, focusing on the role we can play to help our partner, Acadia National Park, seize opportunities and minimize threats to the park. We will work on protecting, preserving, and enhancing the visitor experience at Acadia. We are reaching out to America’s youth to engage and inspire them with the park’s many wonders. We are conscious of many threats to Acadia’s natural resources and we are committed to understanding and helping the park minimize and mitigate them. And we will continue to support the significant achievements that our benefactors left us— such as Acadia’s beautiful hiking trails and well-maintained carriage roads—and will remain mindful of the generations that follow us, as we take the long view in our work to help care for this remarkable place.