As a kid growing up in Illinois, I was addicted to skiing – I worked at the local ski resort and couldn’t get enough of its 375’ vertical drop onto the Mississippi River, my best friend and I made a ritual out of returning our Christmas presents each year to buy Greyhound tickets and a long weekend skiing out West, and – to feed the jones during the summer—I was downright religious in maintaining my subscription to Powder Magazine, a photo-rich, high-stoke publication that spun tales of snow schussing around the world. Within each Powder edition, I was particularly drawn to the final section, a full-page photo spread entitled, Parting Shot. The page featured an iconic image that captured the essence of the sport and way of being in ‘the mountains’ that I, and so many others, loved so dearly. Each month, the image burned itself into my mind, refueling that fire to keep doing this thing that I cherished so deeply.

This morning’s little note is my attempt to craft a Parting Shot – to honor the essence of something I have treasured so profoundly as I close this chapter of life and head off into the next. After an incredibly rich seven years at the Environmental Center, I will be moving on at the end of this week. The EC has reached a place of maturity and structure where it is ready for its next visionary leader. I am excited to announce that Marty Pool, our rocking Assistant Coordinator of the last two years, will be stepping in to steer the ship….and I, in true Millennial form, am embracing my next phase of professional development and personal growth. This decision has been an incredibly hard one to arrive at – as any of my friend’s on speed dial can attest to – and I will miss the EC and its work deeply.

Just like Powder’s Parting Shot imprinted my brain and left me excited for more, so too, will the value and impact that the Environmental Center has had on me and our community. The organization is both comprised of and supported by a beautiful throng of hard-working, mission-driven souls committed to bettering this world….who also have built the richest weave of community and family I have yet to encounter; our projects have shifted the landscape of this region in a thousand meaningful ways – from launching city recycling to pushing for carbon neutrality to feeding hungry folk to revolutionizing the food system one purchase at a time; and perhaps, most powerful and lasting of all, is the transformative education that the EC has provided to all of us—staff, students, and community members – who have chosen to engage. It is a place where people are tasked with finding their values and honing their ethics; where minds are pushed to paint an image of the world as they wish to see it…and then figure out how to make that vision real; where people are taught the immeasurable value and skills needed to build real community; and where graduating class after graduating class walks out of those doors committed to and capable of actively giving back to our world. In this ‘me’ era where disparities continue to grow and the climate continues its steady arc of change, this is perhaps the most valuable impact any entity can have. As Nelson Mandela stated, “education is the most powerful weapon with which to change the world”.

For me, spending my day-to-day in such an inspired environment has only strengthened my desire to support and build our community, to fight for social justice, to battle the causes of climate change and mediate its impacts…and I am eager to put that drive to maximum use. As Yoda would say – The force is strong in this one. Starting next Monday, I will begin my new role building a regional food security and recovery initiative under the USDA grant awarded to the Durango Regional Food Recovery Hub group. For me, food systems have always been the place where it all comes together—environment, society, justice, culture, community, economy…I am hopeful I can use my professional gifts to serve our community in this capacity and look forward to working with you all in this new role. If you care to contact me after Monday, my email will be rachel.l.landis@gmail.com

It has truly been an honor and a pleasure. Many thanks for your support, your hard work and your inspiration. Onward we march!

Be Well,