Since I was a little boy, I’ve been fascinated with the idea that we are all connected; when I was three, I tried to dig my way to China to prove this point. I failed, but never gave up on the basic idea of our connectedness. Since then, I’ve traveled to 31 countries and 49 of the 50 United States, and I’ve learned to see the world through a wider lens.
When I travel, I let go of my routines and try to look through the eyes of the people I meet. Our Culture of Opportunity strategy process has been formed through what I’ve learned in my travels.
I recently returned from a vacation to the West Coast of Florida. A dear friend in St Petersburg told me I must go to the Crystal River Wildlife Refuge, to see where manatees migrate when the weather turns cold. Manatees, also known as sea cows, lead a simple life of eating sea grass, swimming, and sleeping. They use their paddle-like tales to slowly cruise the coast and inland waters of Florida. They are beloved for their gentle nature, tender curiosity, and playful spirit. They are so acclimated to humans that, with the proper approach, they will swim with them.
Because we humans continue to encroach on the places where these tender beings live, manatees are under threat. They were almost extinct just a few years ago, before a major conservation effort brought their numbers way back up…but they are once again in danger.
I am deeply moved by the people who I met on Crystal River, and the work they are doing to protect the sacred life of the river and its inhabitants. My visit there reinforced my commitment to protecting the natural world, through sharing my experience and financial support. It also supported my belief in the critical importance of including all stakeholders in the solution to any problem.