Bringing an end to your career is a process. I’ve spent time looking through old photos, meeting notes, workshop agendas and finding documents that I wrote when many of my colleagues were in elementary school, or even younger. It all seems so strange to follow the arc of time and the evolution of issues we were focused on then, compared to the issues we face today. Spending 30+ years doing environmental work in New Hampshire isn’t what I had planned for myself; but it’s been an incredible journey.
I don’t want to sound smarmy but the NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup has been the best part of my job for the past 12+/- years. Serving as Co-chair with our founder, Steve Miller, required deep thinking and being conscientious of what it meant to form and oversee a constantly changing and evolving collaborative. We always asked ourselves how we could best serve the collaborative and ensure everyone’s voices, opinions, and concerns were heard and addressed. CAW is NOT a group of shrinking violets! We have a lively, smart, engaged, and thoughtful team of people! Thankfully! It has been a truly amazing adventure to serve as Co-chair for all these years. Thank you!
I remember in 2013 sitting down at the first NH Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission meeting next to Steve, we were all dressed up in suits, super professional, and nervous. Every coastal town was there, legislators, my assistant commissioner, every state agency, the Board of Realtors, the Municipal Association, the municipal insurance provider, the Home Builder’s Association, the Regional Planning Commissions, and the UNH Climate Scientist. EVERYBODY! I leaned over to Steve and said, holy cow, here we are! We have been very fortunate to have a strong team here in our region supporting the scientific understanding of the risks we are facing and the collective knowledge of what we need to do to ensure we have thriving coastal communities. That knowledge grows deeper, the science continues to advance thanks, in part, to our research partners at UNH, and the willingness of our municipal officials to act is evident.
Collectively, our member organizations have hired so much amazing new talent, with jobs dedicated to coastal resilience, and we have partners at the ready to assist our municipal decision makers. We have always had challenges; we needed more funding, more capacity, and more time. The impacts are increasing at a very fast pace. Our work is necessary and timely. Federal funding is more available, which is refreshing and much needed. Our capacity continues to be a challenge.
The collaborative we have formed, together, will continue to face these challenges and assist our coastal watershed communities in addressing the climate impacts they are experiencing. Difficult decisions will need to be made. New Hampshire’s coast will not be the same as it is today. Our continued engagement, communication, and collective efforts are more important now than they were 30 years ago.
When Abigail filled the Co-chair position after Steve, I was reminded of how we must continually evolve and grow. Change and adaptation are needed in every step we take. It has been great to work with Abigail serving as Co-chair. She is very capable, thoughtful, and will continue to lead effectively. I was so happy when Nathalie stepped up to the plate to serve as Co-chair this year! Nathalie will also shine as Co-chair, just as Abigail has. She is skilled, dedicated, and thorough. The collaborative is in good hands.
Collaboration can be messy, but it is necessary. It takes time, but it is worth it. The trust we develop in one another through our teamwork gets better year after year. As we face the continued extreme weather events and the long-term projections, we need to continue to be nimble, honest, and work together. As I step away from the collaborative I helped to form and Co-chaired, I feel proud of what we have created, what we have accomplished, the friendships we’ve made, the challenges we have faced and the laughs we have shared. It is hard work; it is serious work. Working together makes it all a little easier.
Remember…if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.