We catch on to the truth and technique of expectation in those rare moments when we are stirred by an awareness of a guidance seemingly higher and greater than our own, when for a little while we are taken over by a force and an intelligence above and beyond those commonly felt. Confident and free, filled with wonder and ready acceptance, we permit ourselves to be taken over by our unquestioning self. Marcus Bach
Impact reports, investment returns, budgets, process improvement, strategic plans, meetings, audits. The business of being a business. Even as a non-profit foundation, we are wrapped in the layers of responsibility of being in business and accountability for the use of tax-exempt funds. And that means numbers and reports and meetings; all that is necessary and critical to keeping the ship on course.
1772 does not exist to be in the business of being a foundation. We exist to bring historic places back to life, and we do that because there is real proof that historic preservation matters; it is an economic driver, it has significant environmental benefit, and it provides people with quality spaces to live and work. It matters, and we can measure our impact in these areas.
We need to pause and recognize those moments that fuel our imagination and enthusiasm past the more mundane tasks of being in business. Our group has experienced these special moments of clarity, where the magic of preservation is revealed and we know, without a doubt, that what we do is important. They come upon us unexpectedly.
Among them, a hushed moment after our board and staff, one by one, ducked under an old rusted chain link fence on a drizzly April afternoon in gritty Paterson, NJ to get a glimpse of the abandoned Hinchliffe Stadium. The glory of it was palpable through the crumbling walls and graffiti; once a Field of Dreams for African-American ball players and still echoing their triumphs and struggles.
And again, feeling the weight of the most priceless of gems in a handful of beans at Seed Savers Exchange, passed down from the Cherokees who brought them on their forced march west in 1838. The beans are named “Trail of Tears” and carry with them a painful history and the hope for a better future. Heirlooms like these represent an incredible effort to protect us all from genetic erosion and may well be the salvation of our future food supply. They are kept viable on an overwhelmingly important field of dreams, Noah’s Ark and the Garden of Eden wrapped into one, at Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa. We felt the weight of history and the promise for our future on an early summer afternoon on that sacred ground.
And, forever imprinted on my mind – the lush humidity that sinks around us while we soak in the sight of a fragile Gullah cottage framed by a majestic live oak on Daufuskie Island in South Carolina, a perfect metaphor for the strength and vulnerability of the people who once lived there.
And, even on a routine trip to Providence, smelling fresh coffee and feeling the distinct hum of vibrant arts and culture in a neighborhood that was written off thirty years ago.
These experiences are familiar to all of us who care about preserving the sense of place through preservation. We need these moments to remind us of what really matters and to be inspired to do more. Maya Angelou’s quotation about life is aptly applied to our work which is “not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”