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KEEN Connects: A year in review and looking to 2019

Looking behind

What is a year? A measure of time, counted out second by second? A measure of distance, a complete journey around the sun? A changing of the seasons, from Winter to Spring to Summer to Autumn and back to Winter? A new page number in the history books, from 2018 to 2019?

New years arrive on a strict timetable, like clockwork: precisely one every year. It couldn’t happen any other way, for a year is exactly one year long.

Years are cyclical. Temperatures are falling, the leaves have already fallen, the snow is on its way in, and the geese are on their way out. Just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and…

What made this year different from those past? Why was this trip around the sun significant? Are we going in circles?

Winter is a time when these thoughts run through my head. The days are short and cold; fun times can be had outside, but eventually it’s nice to come home to cozy blankets and a steaming mug of hot chocolate.

KEEN in 2018

The Kittitas Environmental Education Network is reflecting on a year of sustainability. Sustained effort has kept two events going strong for their second years: The Yakima River Canyon Bird Fest, and the WindFall Cider and Bluegrass Fest. KEEN also continued providing fourth-grade camp to Valley View, and the Pond to Pines summer camp had an awesome third year. Get Intimate with the Shrub Steppe celebrated its 19th birthday. More than a thousand people experienced the outdoors in Kittitas valley, through KEEN events.

KEEN improved sustainability at Helen McCabe State Park, as well. With the help of Central Washington University volunteers on Earth day, we finished putting gravel down on the path around the pond. We also planted more than 700 native plants.

As an organization, we made strides in educating ourselves and making sure KEEN is sustainable. We funded and hired a professional bookkeeper, and updated our records keeping and board member roles.

KEEN in 2019

We’re hoping to continue with our events, as well as refocusing our mission. We plan to look at how we can best serve the county, and what new ways we can find to carry out our mission effectively. How can we get the most “bang” for our buck? What kind of “bang” do we want?

Our surroundings are chock-full of amazing creatures and critters, from pygmy rabbits and pygmy owls up to elk and bald eagles. Our valley ranges from sub-alpine environs to desert-like sagebrush steppe. KEEN hopes to share our unique place in the world. Everyone should be able to look at their environment and find something beautiful in it. Our goal is to provide the tools and the knowledge that makes that possible.

Looking ahead

What will make next year different from this one? Is it just another 365 days to get through?

A lot happens in a year. Some good days, some bad ones. Some amazing days. Some terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days (hopefully not too many of those). A lot of mediocre days. A lot of days in 2018, I woke up, rolled out of bed, ate breakfast, went to work, came home, made dinner, did dishes, went to bed. Is that what makes up the year?

Counting the seconds loses the forest for the trees. Even as years change, we can still ask: How many changes happened to you? How many changes did you make?

A new year is a reminder to look at the bigger picture, and your place in it. An ecological view, so to speak, with every part connected to the whole. A new year can be a wake-up call, to find intentionality. “Time is passing!” it shouts. “Make it count.”

Time can be cyclical, but it doesn’t have to be monotonous. Each year should bring some new wonder to our lives. It’s our job to seek it out, like a fox pouncing into snow. The sharpness of winter can bring out the warmth and vitality in our own hearts. Instead of shrinking from the world, we need to engage.

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