Find a way.

When I have something I’m trying to sort out I’ll often head into the woods. This time I was camping along the Finger Lakes Trail trying to figure out if I should leave classroom teaching to pursue building something, I wasn’t quite sure what yet, that would lead to programs and places where people could cultivate stronger relationships with the environment and each other. Doing this was something I had in my mind even before I began teaching. It would be a big leap. I loved my job as a teacher, I was able to get students out and into the world, and I was seeing it work. There is also the whole security and stability thing. To leave a job as a tenured teacher is to leave a fairly safe harbor.

On the other hand some things had recently fallen into place and it seemed like the right time. It would be an opportunity to do more of what I believed we needed in our community and our country. There were lots of pros and cons on both sides and I hadn’t made up my mind after a couple of days of hiking and writing. As I was getting ready to go home something caught my eye. It was a white rubber bracelet. I picked it up and read the one thing that what was embossed on it. “Find a way.”

My last day as an RCSD teacher was shortly after that day four years ago and I am now the Executive Director of Rochester Ecology Partners. The road has been rough. I just broke down in tears thinking back to what I might write about it. While a few of the tears were for the hardest days, most of them were happy tears because despite the challenges we have faced we have found a way. That way is together.

Together my wife Tiffany and I have navigated how we were going to keep our bills paid. Together an incredible board of directors who believe something new is needed and possible, have worked to build an organization. Together a community of supporters and advisors that reaches as far as the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee have shared their abundance with us to get things moving in the right direction. Together we have created the Rochester Ecology Partners.

Today I am sharing all of this because I am hoping you will get involved. Rochester Ecology Partners is a non-profit organization that serves people in Greater Rochester through nature based learning and community building. Our focus is youth education in the city but we see an ecosystem of programs that connect people in a variety of ways as essential to co-creating a bright and hopeful future. We need your help moving things from startup to the next stage

There are three main ways you can help us grow:

Come to our friendraiser picnic on June 5 at Seneca Park. Please RSVP on our website or FB if you plan to attend. It will be a good time and we’d love to see you there.…/friendraiserforrep/

Get connected to our different ways of sharing what we are doing. On our home page you will find our social media links and email list sign up.

Make a donation or other contribution. We have a FB fundraiser set up and you can also donate on our website.

I finally put this together because I’ll be 45 next month and it will be the first month that I am full time as the Executive Director of Rochester Ecology Partners. I am grateful for everything that everyone has contributed to developing a shared vision and making it a reality. As I think about all of the people who might read this (and are still reading) I can’t help but think I am a lucky guy to have so many incredible people in my life. We have done some amazing things together. I look forward to stronger connections, reconnections, and new connections in the coming year. Our community needs a new way based on some basic ideas from ecology – diversity, abundance, connection – and I am optimistic about figuring out what that means together.

Chris Widmaier

Executive Director
Rochester Ecology Partners