Friday, August 22, 2014

Volunteering Can Bring Surprises

       I am active in my community. I volunteer and serve on various boards and committees.

        I am a board member of a group which is providing some funding for another group's  project. The second group likes to do projects which are different and hopes that by demonstration they can influence the city to carry out projects which are much more environmentally sensitive. The group's name says it all.. Rethink Red Deer!

        The other day I volunteered to go on a walk to look at a piece of property for which they have a rehabilitation plan. The area is an old farm yard. The city has expanded and taken this land into it's boundary. They have also bought the property to hold for development. The farmer rents this land from the city. There was a cattle operation on the property so it's like many abandoned farmsteads...incredibly weedy. A stream meanders through the property. All native riparian species have disappeared long ago.

A very pleasant stream worth some restoration

The stream winds through the weed patch

No native plants are left

There's lots of overgrown grass
     The farm stead has been turned into community gardens. The gardeners are extremely fortunate as it's perfect gardening soil. 

    As we wandered though the property we saw what we guessed was the farmer repairing some machinery. Well, let's walk over and meet the farmer and introduce ourselves. At first, I didn't think he heard us so I repeated myself. I got a sound which certainly wasn't a word. We tried to ask for some background information about the area. We did get some one word answers but nothing else was volunteered. By this time we knew we were not welcome. He then wanted to know what we were doing. We told him about the project. Again there was a sort of grunt of some kind. By this time I thought we should maybe get out of there so I said, "Nice talking to you!" and we left.

    It was certainly one of the frostiest conversations I have had for a long time. It was a surprise for our group to run into such a reception. Nothing had warned us that there might be a negative reception.
    So volunteers have to watch out where they step or they could get a surprise. We are dealing with the city so have permission to enter the property and make plans. I suppose the farmer may not be happy as he may have had enough of dealing with city officials