Dear RGMC Member:
Last week the RGMC held its fifteenth annual meeting. The meeting was a great success and a wonderful experience for all involved. Great thanks go to Nora Demersfor all of her work in organizing the event. The meeting was a relaxing way to end a tumultuous year and very positive way to start off 2004.
The first order of business was the approval of this year’s board of Directors. I will be returning as President of the RGMC. Nora Demers has agreed to continue to tackle the challenges of board Secretary. Mike Conway will also continue as RGMC’s treasurer. Ellie Boyd is replacing Paul Andrews as Vice President. Continuing with the Board of Directors will be Matt Bixler of the Conservancy and David Urich. Joining the Board for the first time is Loren Wieland. We are indebted to outgoing board members Susan Brookman and Paul Andrews. This next year promises to be as challenging for the RGMC as last year, but with the great knowledge and experience as well as new energy that is coming to the table, 2004 also promises to be a very productive year.
The people mentioned above are all concerned citizens giving of their time and energy to address issues that are important to responsible growth in our community. They have all agreed to take on the responsibilities requisite with their positions on the board. But there is an overwhelming amount of work to be done. The Board of Directors’ meetings are open to all members. We welcome members to attend the meetings and to share their ideas. We also welcome any member who is willing to give of their time to address the very pressing realities of responsible growth in this community. There are letters to write, public hearings to attend, documents to read and research. Any member of the RGMC can do all of these activities. If you are interested in such participation please attend the board of director’s meetings or contact me at 561-2315 or at email@example.com.
During the Annual Meeting Bill Hammond reminded us of the great accomplishments of the past fifteen years that the RGMC either made happen, or helped to make happen. He inspired us with great stories of the tremendous, positive impact the RGMC has had in this community. He also reminded us that none of these things could have happened without the active participation of concerned citizens like you.
Often times this process is slow, and it feels like we are shouting into the emptiness. This perspective is disheartening, but it is also untrue. During this long year the RGMC has been at forefront of responsible growth issues in Lee County. Most recently, because of the actions of the Responsible Growth Management Coalition, the Collier families, in their lawsuit against Florida Power and Light regarding the routing of alternate power lines, have withdrawn their proposed alternative that would have stretched power lines through the CREW preserve. Though this lawsuit is still pending, this action is a testament to the tenacity of the RGMC and its members.
Also, the RGMC is supporting the Greater Pine Island Civic Association in its defense of the Pine Island Plan. Developers and agricultural interests have challenged this plan. The GQICA and the Agricultural Land Holders are negotiating. Once again, this issue is still pending, but the ongoing dialogue is a positive sign for the citizens of Pine Island and their desire to promote responsible growth in their community. Thank you, Ellie Boyd, for all of your hard work and perseverance on this very important issue.
As last year was a time of transition for the RGMC, this year is a time of solidification. As president of the RGMC it is my intention to develop greater, more efficient communication among the board and the membership. The actions of the RGMC should be based more on strategy and less on contingency. This will require the participation of all of our members.
Therefore, membership is going to be of utmost importance. As I’ve expressed before, the greater our membership, the louder our voice. The greater our resources, the less necessity there is for us to use our resources. I hope to promote membership as a universal theme for all of our membership. If every member can bring just one more person into the group, we’ve doubled our strength. Enclosed are some brochures. Please share these with others, let them know how important responsible growth is to you and how important it is to our community.
My third goal for this next year is education. I am a professional educator who truly believes that knowledge is power. Last year I mentioned a gentleman in British Columbia who has been logging the same 130-acre plot of land since the depression. His business practices are based on a belief in responsible use of resources. His community benefits from stable jobs and a healthy environment, and he and his family profits from a long-term investment. There are many examples of responsible growth being put to practice all over the world. These stories should be shared; these practices should be encouraged.
Only those girded with knowledge can hope to stand up to the drive and resources of special interests whose goal is to rape our environment for financial gain without regard for those of us who live here, raise our children here and enjoy our grandchildren here.
My thanks to all members of the RGMC who helped make last year a success. Let us bring that energy into the New Year.
Michael Andoscia, M.A.