I’ve just returned from an unparalleled adventure – rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  I waited more than a decade for my private permit – the chance to run this river with a crew of my own choosing, and accountable for our own safety and adventure.  It is a thrilling “once-in-a-lifetime” adventure that I have been fortunate to take more than once in the last 20 years.

Lori and her husband David

Our river trip was unparalleled – every camp, every hike, every rapid, every slant of light on the canyon walls, better than I could have hoped even if I could have pre-scripted all those details.  The Grand Canyon is truly one of the wonders of our planet – it still feels wild and remote, which is a rarity in our modern world.

Being in places like the Grand Canyon inspired me to do the work I have done for nearly three decades now – I started because I wanted to protect wild places, because they feed the human spirit, and because they have value that is separate from us, and we have much to learn from the systems of interconnectedness that wild places hold.

Even this world-class treasure faces threats right now, from the one species that most threatens the wild places of our planet — us.  As a species, we take actions every day that chip away at the integrity of natural systems.

At the same time, every single day I come into contact with people who are doing something to protect the integrity of our planet.  I am inspired by individuals who are taking steps, large and small, to shift away from our destructive patterns.  When I came home, I returned to a job in which my colleagues have committed their lives to protecting the planet.  We share values, goals, work, and friendship.  I am fortunate to have connected myself to a team of people all around the world who, by virtue of their commitment, are making things better.  My first day back in the office we had a visit from some ELAW supporters – three generations of a family that all choose to support ELAW’s work financially.  The youngest one was about seven – she and her siblings voted to make their year-end donations to ELAW.  They’re part of our team – we’re all in this work together.

One of my tasks this week is to coalesce a number of great ideas about how ELAW can help protect a different natural treasure – the Mesoamerican Reef – and tie those ideas together into a cohesive regional work plan with achievable goals for the year to come.  My colleagues are ambitious, and serious about protecting the Reef and coastal ecosystems from oil exploration, resort development, overfishing and pollution from industrial sources.  Because our natural treasures, and the people who depend on them, are more important than oil or luxury resorts.  We are winning some, and sometimes we have setbacks.  But I’m confident that our commitment, and our collaboration, are making things better.

Back to work!

Lori Maddox
Associate Director