I'm writing this from a little airport motel room in Madrid, unfortunately having to miss the last day of WILD10 due to obligations back home in New York City...
As I type, listening to the traffic on the street a few floors below my windows, I can picture the brilliantly lit spires, towers, and domes of medieval Salamanca, competing with the crescent moon rising tonight over that ebullient Spanish city.
So much happened at this international conference. There were so many opportunities for networking and bonding, seeing old friends, making new ones, attending intense plenary and workshop sessions, joining indigenous peoples and non-indigenous ones for sunrise blessings, participating in the myriad cultural events that seemed to be nearly as important as the environmental ones, and closely tied to them, that this conference puts one's mind in a whirl that will take real time to "tame." Yes, WILD10 needs taming! I need quiet time to write up my notes, think my thoughts, figure out and work through all my impressions, brief colleagues who weren't able to attend, and make the long "to do" list of ideas generated by the boundless creativity, talent and dedication that I was privileged to witness in the past week.
One thing is for sure: if you have a passion for conservation, for nature, for wildness, for wilderness, for biodiversity, for wildlife, for ecology, for conservation biology, for working with nature for people's sakes, and with people for nature's sake, there are one million and one ways to make your own contribution. Hearing so many caring, committed people talk about their journeys in conservation, their stories of how they figured out how to use their particular talents, skills, ideas, abilities and passions in the cause of wild nature, was absolutely fascinating. It's because conservation isn't just some narrow professional field, but really life itself, that anyone and everyone can put their stamp on it, and make a life of it!
For me, one of the highlights today was attending a panel of women marine conservationists that included legendary Sylvia Earle. The panelists talked about not just their explorations of and contributions to the field, but their experiences in what is still a male-dominated profession. Sylvia Earle told us about her three children and four grandchildren, and her view of education, saying that every so often, she made herself unpopular with her kids' school teachers and administrators by taking her kids out of school for time in the world's oceans. She said: "As a mom, I had a theory about education, that no child should be left dry!"
Stay tuned to this blog for more news from WILD10, including a description from Canadian conservationist Harvey Locke, about his experiences on Monday in a Spanish biosphere reserve. There, along with other WILD10 delegates, Harvey and his wife Marie-Eve Marchand Locke, got to be a very special part of the history of the rewilding of Spain.