President’s 2007 Annual Report

Welcome to the forty-sixth annual meeting of the Newton Conservators. I want to thank all of you members and friends who are attending tonight’s dinner. Special thanks to State Representative Kay Kahn, Alderman Lisle Backer, Alderman Victoria Danberg, Alderman Vern Vance, Alderman Steve Linsky, Alderman Ben Weisbuch , and Mayor David Cohen. We welcome you to our program and thank you for your assistance with various open space projects in the past and the future. We also welcome individuals from other environmental and historical groups that are attending and have cooperated and collaborated with us in the past to keep open space and conservation on the agenda in Newton.

I also want to welcome Garen Corbett and family as we dedicate this evening’s Annual Dinner to his mother, Carol Corbett. The Conservators, at their last meeting, provided funds to the Newton Community Farm for a grove of trees in Carol’s name. Carol thought the annual meeting renewed and re-energized Conservators for the next year’s activities. Old friends, faces and networking provide the energy for continuous conservation efforts. Let us have a moment of silence to remember Carol and her accomplishments as a Newton Conservator. A quote by Margaret Mead comes to mind, thinking of Conservator activities: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

As a group, the Conservators might be considered as a garden – especially with Greg Maslowe as our speaker this evening. Many of you might be considered as like asparagus, a perennial that continues to produce year after year. Moreover, as I learned from Greg last year, you don’t have production from asparagus for about three years. This fits in nicely with new members and new board members. There is something to be gained from new members with their enthusiasm and knowledge, but they become even more important after a few years of mentoring and cultivating. Many of you might be compared to fruit trees which take a whole lot longer to develop and grow before they bear fruit and provide the backbone for the mission of the Conservators.

As a biologist, I think of you as a “garden of talented individuals,” each with a particular skill or accomplishment that blends in with other Conservators. Just like a plant seed you always have had the potential for great things; it just takes the proper environment and a little nurturing to bring you up to your proper intellectual potential. A quote from Rachel Carson comes to mind: “If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.”

As Conservators we have to enlighten others about the benefits of environmental action. Individuals learn about and understand the mission and offer help in various ways. Symbolically, some plants pop up quickly, develop and produce fruiting benefits immediately, while others take a lot longer to develop (understand) and produce. Broccoli, asparagus and fruit trees are examples of seed planting that takes years to produce a useful product. This also is true with some Newton residents. All plants have the photosynthetic ability to convert the sun’s energy into carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and nucleic acids; nevertheless, there is some difficulty in obtaining the correct amount of sunlight and nutrients for proper growth for these plants. Environmental advocacy is not easy and there is no quick fix to be able to solve complex problems in a decent time interval. Both plants –and Conservators – need nurturing to fully develop their potential. This includes weeding away distractions and non beneficial activities, and also helping to stabilize the organization with proper support structures. “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” (Eeyore, from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh)

Some plants are more directed toward finding their own path for enlightenment and survival. These hardy individuals help to pave the way for others to follow into a more habitable environment. They are watched and sometimes directed into a better habitat by a careful gardener. One such Board of Directors’ member comes to mind in Duane Hillis, who had the foresight to think of converting the Angino Farm back into a community farm. Duane is retiring this year as an active board member but will continue as an advisor. An appropriate quote for Duane is as follows: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” (Dwight Eisenhower)

In what other activities have the Conservators been participants? The TV action group has won several new awards for their nature shows on NEWTV. The addition of a Website link to view these wonderful presentations was added to our Website by Dan Brody. Crystal Lake is another topic that comes to mind, and with our support the City has requested the Community Preservation Committee (CPA) to purchase the property to provide more visual open space and recreational access to the lake and swimming area. We must not forget that it was the Conservators – in collaboration with other conservation groups – that initiated voting activities to approve the CPA for Newton. Our monthly meetings are a multitasker’s delight with numerous topics brought up, and analyzed. These include discussions on Guided Walks, Environmental Lectures, Land Management, Publicity, birding activities, Habitat for Humanity, and preservation of open areas. One local preservation area has been “Dexter Woods” a parcel of wooded land on Dexter Street in Newton. Modestino Criscitiello (Cris) and his committee has been the prime mover in Dexter Woods’ maintenance and preservation. (We had a tree fall down this year, and others had to be trimmed!). We have to be able to adapt to change to protect areas with indigenous flora and fauna.

“Like the resource it seeks to protect, wildlife conservation must be dynamic, changing as conditions change, seeking always to become more effective” (Rachel Carson)

William Hagar