I didn’t write a speech to deliver at the mic for when I got this award yesterday, but in a way I wrote one this morning, in my head, as I walked in the field and woods near my house.
Ha, ha, better late than never, right?
My speech is this:
This award is actually for every single one of you. You are vital. This island needs you, and each person under the age of 40 (which is the cutoff age for the award), and for that matter, over 40, is essential. You are like the soil, the trees, the water, the air: essential elements of a healthy community.
You are vital, when you help out others. You are vital, when you help out yourself, by educating yourself or by taking risks. When you volunteer your time for your community, you are vital. When you say no to volunteering in order to take care of yourself, you are vital.
If you are here and you have something to offer, you are vital. If you can teach a kid to read, you are vital. If you can have tea with a new friend, you are vital. If you can make a living for yourself, even if it’s not exactly the living you had envisioned, you are vital. If you are working towards that vision anyway, you are vital. If you don’t even really know what your vision is yet, you are vital.
The “vital signs” of a person are the heartbeat, the breath. To each person that actually physically lives on this island, or who plans to in the near future: you are the living breath of this island. You are the thump-thump-thump, healthy heart beating, flowing, pumping the blood through the veins. That’s all you. You are doing that!
Here on the island and around the world, really, what our generation is learning is that the big systems of global economics that made things feel prosperous in the past are changing, breaking apart. And as that happens, we are learning how to create our own systems, and that we must create our own systems. Systems, and communities, that are smaller, local, strong, vital.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.