I’m writing this now from Homegrown, a pub in old town Florence, OR. It’s a perfect place with amazing people and food. One more star on the wall for “Best Coast” status.ashland

Today, Jean and I planted stakes to mark restricted areas for bird habitation. Spoke with experts in the field on plover response to their efforts. We spoke with a leader in the world of Florence dune racing, someone you would expect to be our polar opposite, about his love for protecting the dunes and local species being second only for his love for riding.

Today was, despite unique in its own way, much like every other day on this trip. How does one write a time sheet for ‘always on’? Even as I crawl into bed tonight I’ll be responding to an email or social media message. Writing or editing my next post. Reviewing a heavy itinerary so I don’t miss anything or late to anything. Just now, as I was ordering my food – I got another follower by being a spokesman for my cause and chatting it up. At another place last week someone recognized us for who we were before we said anything! At first I thought ‘Ambassador’ was a heavy title, but now – as I prepare to smile and talk to my waitress about Birdtrippers when she comes back – It couldn’t be more perfect.

10391901_10209212207087452_3236597901885079045_nI’ve been absolutely surprised by how so many different groups, with radically difference reasons for being in the room, are all coming together for birds. I feel like Jean and I are a match shifting the conversation to birds and conservation in a way that everyone gets to express how they feel and why they care. No tension, just open conversation. Hunters might get a bad rap, but their tradition heavily supports the populations of waterfowl even if they are shaving off a bit of the population. Would they population even exist today without them? Farmers and ranchers come at the entire experience in an incredibly different route of negotiating and maintaining relations with state and federal land management – but all the often we meet these farmers and ranchers who are maintaing their own sanctuaries or have signed agreements that forbid development on their land – further ensuring the protection of birds. Heck, today I met a man who is a big mover in the Florence community because of his love for riding the dunes in heavy vehicles – but he’s also a huge lover of the dunes expanding both for his sport and for the protection of wildlife.

Everyone can come to this table together with their own interests. Jean and I aren’t just encouraging new people to join a love for birds and the outdoors – we’re contributing to a larger conversation about how everyone different interests does not mean they don’t share values.

Christian McWilliams

Christian studied International Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University with an interest in global environmental conservation, and has lived most of his life between Spain and the United States. Internship experiences during his studies have taken him up and down the East Coast of the US, and had him spend over a year in Mumbai. He enjoys keeping up with global and domestic news, volunteering, and a well made cup of coffee.

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