Saturday, May 22, 2010

Conservation, ethics and pragmatism

This coming week is my last at The Land Conservancy. I found I couldn't trade job security for two more months of ethically fulfilling yet infuriatingly stunted work.

In my seven months there, I saw the beginning of a 5 year campaign to save hectares of natural space, and I saw the end of a 2.5 year campaign to purchase Madrona Farm - an organic farm that provides food to 1500 households and restaurants on Vancouver Island. I saw the restoration of Craigflower Schoolhouse after it was ravaged by fire.

The Land Conservancy is a very unusual conservation organization; it's mandate is to save pretty much anything that plays an important role in the community. Officially it is to save spaces of agricultural, heritage, or environmental importance. However, if there isn't a strong community interest in save a place then the chances of TLC being interested are limited.

There are so many things I wish for this organisation. And I love working for things I believe in - despite the fact that doing writing and public education seem somewhat removed from on the ground property stewardship.

Nonetheless, I start as an academic advisor with the Arts Institute at the end of the month. TLC can't offer me an ongoing position. Or at least they can't say one way or the other. A livable wage, RRSP contributions, benefits...These are the things that bought me. Am I selling out? Is it possible to work on something you believe in without sacrificing the life goals you set for yourself? Is it so bad that I just want to pay back my student loans?

2 Comments:

Blogger Bette said...

I wish I could find a decent job to pay back my student loans! (Screw this American economy!) You shouldn't feel guilty about the career change. I hope your new work is at least somewhat fulfilling.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Trust me, no, no, and NO! These damn charities get off on treating people like they're on sale believe you me. I've seen actual minutes from the Council meetings back home, and the members would flat out talk crap like, "Employees work here for the sense of fulfillment," or my favourite, "We can't be seen to pay people too much." It's crap! if you're worth more, then get that money! At some point they'll have to realize they can't get by paying top dollar--at this moment, conservation charities are really only starting off points for folks with newly minted degrees. It's they're own fault for not looking carefully at cost effectiveness. "Gee Steve, if we pay people what they're worth, it costs less than having to train new people every two or three years!"

2:14 PM  

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