Some of you may know my trail name here in the SOREDI office is “Spur.” It was aptly given me by a staff member a few years ago after a staff retreat. We had drawn names and been given the assignment to give another staff member a trail name based on a variety of inputs and answers to other fun questions.
“Catness” had noticed blisters on my heels, after I had been out on a particularly long trek, and suggested that I tend to spur others on even when I am a bit uncomfortable. That was a defining moment of truth for me; that as Executive Director I would need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, at times, and simply keep trekking forward.
When out in the woods, my official trail name is “Spark.” Indeed, I like to hike quite a bit and find solace and wisdom when out in the wilderness. This past weekend, I was out again with a friend in the Russian Wilderness of Northern California and was pondering this agency’s future; we are now mid-way in the discovery process toward our next 5-year Strategic Plan. We anticipate an initial roll out of the plan in November 2019, with implementation of tactics as soon thereafter as is plausible.
Lessons from the Trail
Experienced hikers know that when you come to a trail junction, you stop. You may need to wait for your hiking buddy to catch up and you absolutely must look at every tree for potential directional signs. You should probably consult your map. And when really in doubt, you might also need to look at the trail itself to determine which is most traveled.
I know this because just last year I was hiking in familiar territory near Mt. McLoughlin and blazed head-down right through a trail junction. Over three miles later, I suspected I’d made an error and chatted with a through-hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail to confirm (thanks to his GPS) that I was off course. Yes, I did backtrack, adding over 7 miles to my outing with very little water. What was intended to be an 8-mile outing ended up being 15; I was exhausted, dehydrated and unquestionably hard on myself for the stupid mistake.
As tempting as it is for SOREDI to push forward, doing the many good things we do, we are mapping out clear pathways for our work over the next 5-10 years. We are at a trail junction and seeking clear direction.
Moreover, hikers who are in it for the long haul also consistently evaluate their gear. A through-hiker on the PCT – which is over 2600 miles – will go through 4 or 5 pairs of hiking boots alone! On one particular 60-mile outing a few years ago we met a through-hiker, aka “Deer Hunter” who stopped to chat with us a bit about his gear. He authoritatively said that if you don’t have at least three purposes for every piece of gear you’re carrying then maybe you don’t really need it!
With an updated strategy underway, several staff transitions on our horizon, and the constant need to evaluate all our resources and tools of the trade, it may be time for SOREDI to evaluate its own trekking gear as we continue on our Rogue Adventure for Southern Oregon.
“Deer Hunter” had dumped his jet boil and decided he could do without hot meals, in favor of carrying less weight. SOREDI has always been nimble – given our non-profit, regional roots. With our updated Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) just around the bend, will it be time to make greater investments, and switch to ultra-light gear? Or will we need to get off the trail completely, gear up differently and hit the road in an RV?!
No matter the trail or highway we may take, whatever gear we may ultimately need is yet to be decided; we are stopping at this trail junction and evaluating our best path forward. Finding ourselves lost on a trail, or discovering we’re missing some gear would definitely hamper our effectiveness on the path forward for our growing region.
We are still wildly serious about business development in Southern Oregon and we want to hear a broad range of perspectives on this topic. There is still time for you to participate as we gather information in the strategic planning process. If you have thoughts on this matter, please send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colleen Padilla, Executive Director