By Christie Goode (Vice President of Advancement)

I heard an interesting comment at an A Rocha staff meeting recently. David Anderson, the Director of our Brooksdale Environmental Centre in South Surrey, shared that to whatever extent A Rocha has social capital in our constituency, he thinks it is mostly due to how we do what we do. It’s not primarily about the what.

What David meant is that our relationships with city officials, local landowners, partnering conservation organizations, volunteers and donors are richly enhanced by the fact that we engage in environmental care not from a spirit of desperation or anger or defensiveness, but from a spirit of hope and gratitude.

Habitat Restoration Team

Roy Teo (Metro Vancouver Parks) with Jesse Wildeman (A Rocha Canada) working together to restore habitat.

This is important to us because it shapes the quality of our relationships. Our preferred way of participating in transformation is to work on long stories. To be present in a location for the long haul, nurturing a community that is anchored in its identity as caretakers of creation, and so impacting a watershed’s environmental, social and cultural life for the long-term. This model of transformation requires people growing into a community, and it requires time.

Defensiveness, desperation and anger don’t create a welcoming space to be a community. But friendship, intelligence and compassion do.

We see examples of the fruit of this posture all the time as people participate in our programs across the country. They tell us they feel welcome, they feel peace, and they feel nourished by being part of community, of whatever town or city they happen to be in.

One of our interns at Brooksdale this Fall was a university graduate from Ottawa with little experience of the Christian faith. When she left to return home, she shared at her farewell that while she had learned a lot, her primary experience of A Rocha has been love. “What I’ve experienced most is love. So much love… And it’s felt foreign. But also beautiful.”

That is how A Rocha works. One person at a time, one conservation project at a time. Each relationship and task engaged (we hope) with gentleness and friendship. Welcoming all of us into community, as we journey together to care for God’s world. It’s important work to do, but how we do it, is even more important.

Habitat Restoration

A Rocha’s conservation team joins Metro Vancouver Parks to restore habitat at Campbell Valley Regional Park.

Volunteer Restoring Habitat

Stewardship Technician (Metro Vancouver Parks) planting red flowering currant.

Intern Melanie doing Habitat Restoration

Melanie Moore (A Rocha conservation intern) plants native species to restore habitat.