By Rus Peotter, HLT Board President
At Hilltown Land Trust we’ve been thinking and talking a lot about “community” lately. These conversations have grown out of our work to clarify and strengthen our Values Statement with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Of the words and values we’ve discussed, Community is at the top of the list. At first blush, the idea seems simple: our service area includes 13 rural towns in all four counties of Western Massachusetts. But using municipal boundaries to define “community” comes up short.
The benefits of conserving land stretch beyond our service area, and people who visit HLT properties often come from places well beyond those 13 towns. HLT’s partners, donors, volunteers, and supporters are from all over. Ecosystems don’t stop at a town line, and neither should our definition of community.
While our Board and staff are still discussing exactly how to define “community,” we agree on key concepts. We acknowledge that we are responsible to those in our service area. And we believe in the importance and value of seeking input and welcoming diverse opinions from people both local and farther away.
We also agree that communities gather because people know that by working together, they can be more effective at achieving their goals. And at HLT we believe that “community” needs to be inclusive, embracing various identities and opinions.
So, whether you are birding on the trails at the Stevens Property in Huntington and Westhampton, exploring Locke’s Loop Trail in Williamsburg, or participating in our Vernal Pool Plunge, you may be part of several different communities. We want you to know that both you and your communities are valued by HLT.