I’m honored to be joining the ACC Summit in Salt Lake City this week as a speaker and moderator.
Just over a year ago we had the honor of hosting ACC, in partnership with the Fairlight Forum and our state forester, in a real-life “field seminar” where we planted trees and learned about forestry management.
One of the trees we planted is now taller than our youngest, Teddy (above). In about five years, if all goes well, that plum tree will bear fruit.
That day we also toured an 8-acre part of my land where I’m restoring an abandoned pasture we call “The Meadow.” The 1,100 young trees in that area are creating a riparian buffer along Israel Creek, which flows into the Potomac. In other areas we planted trees where there are gaps in the canopy caused by the emerald ash borer, an invasive species that took out millions of ash trees in the mid-Atlantic. It was a day to reflect on the fact that property rights are the beginning of property responsibility, the bottom-up realization that our choices affect the lives of those downstream and around the world.
The fact that ACC seeks out these opportunities to serve says something about their values and vision.
Something I’ve learned as a landowner the past five years is that the 24 inches beneath the surface may be a deeper mystery than the 24 million miles over our heads. There is much I don’t know, but I’ve thought a lot about the power of roots and rootedness. In their quest for water and nutrients, roots create a superstructure and scaffolding beneath the surface that locks soil in place, prevents erosion, filters water, mitigates flooding and sequesters carbon. In due time, the miraculous and powerful work of roots creates a tree canopy and sometimes fruit.
The economy or the climate? Why not both?
Subscribe for ideas that support the environment and the people.
ACC’s work shows that wisdom is not a function of age but of perspective. There’s a wisdom, decency, and joyful defiance in dwelling on the long-term – the life under the surface – and choosing restoration and renewal over rage.
For our family, that one day is an everyday gift. When a group of strangers is interested in the life of a child that stays with a child for a lifetime. It creates a generational blessing, a work of material and immaterial beauty.
Policy and clear ideas play an important role in this process but there is something irrefutable about investing in the work of rootedness, and resting in the confidence that beauty can break through.
Soviet dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn put it well:
One day Dostoevsky threw out the enigmatic remark: “Beauty will save the world”. What sort of a statement is that? For a long time I considered it mere words. How could that be possible? When in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything? Ennobled, uplifted, yes – but whom has it saved?
There is, however, a certain peculiarity in the essence of beauty, a peculiarity in the status of art: namely, the convincingness of a true work of art is completely irrefutable and it forces even an opposing heart to surrender. It is possible to compose an outwardly smooth and elegant political speech, a headstrong article, a social program, or a philosophical system on the basis of both a mistake and a lie. What is hidden, what distorted, will not immediately become obvious …
So perhaps that ancient trinity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty is not simply an empty, faded formula as we thought in the days of our self-confident, materialistic youth? If the tops of these three trees converge, as the scholars maintained, but the too blatant, too direct stems of Truth and Goodness are crushed, cut down, not allowed through – then perhaps the fantastic, unpredictable, unexpected stems of Beauty will push through and soar TO THAT VERY SAME PLACE, and in so doing will fulfil the work of all three?
In that case Dostoevsky’s remark, “Beauty will save the world”, was not a careless phrase but a prophecy? After all HE was granted to see much, a man of fantastic illumination.
As the roots of the trees Teddy, Grabriel, Jack and Nora are watching grow go deeper, it’s a reminder that our roots are intertwined. For C3 Solutions and ACC, we’re more than organizational allies. Everyone who was there that day in body or spirit will always have a special place in our family’s hearts, and our yard. We’ll never tire of building a superstructure beneath the surface and, in due time, enjoying an orchard as our reward.
Learn more about the ACC summit here.