The Muse: In Search of Symbiosis - Columbia Land Trust
A message from Executive Director Glenn Lamb

Just one step out my door I encounter a creature whose ancestors first appeared on Earth 400 million years ago. Chances are, you too will find it nearby, on a concrete wall or sidewalk; after all, it covers about six percent of Earth’s surface.

Technically, lichen is made up of two organisms: algae and fungi. In dry conditions where they would otherwise die, algae take advantage of fungi’s protection. In turn, fungi take advantage of algae’s ability to create sugar to grow. The curious thing is that algae and fungi don’t join together unless conditions for each are extremely adverse. Adversity is where they thrive, together.

When I step outside these days, things certainly feel adverse as a human. In a matter of weeks, this virus circled the Earth, bringing us all to a crushing stop. Unlike the attraction-during-adversity that creates lichen, current health care directives instruct us to retreat and isolate ourselves from one another. Where is the symbiosis in that?

And yet empathy creates connections that overcome physical separation. We all have vulnerable friends and family. We all understand how the marginalized in our society are even more at risk. It is amazing to consider how quickly nearly everyone on the globe changed their lives. In this capability I find hope. We will succeed in this crisis only if we mutually thrive. We know this now more clearly than ever.

How do we harness this sense of responsibility for our collective well-being in order to address issues like air and water pollution, the lack of access to local healthy food, species extinction, and a changing climate? Each of us must play a part.

Columbia Land Trust has spent 30 years developing strategies and relationships to do just that. We uncover the values core to our mutual thriving. And we are continuing this work throughout this crisis.

Every day, behind the scenes, our work provides important benefits to the human as well as the non-human. And every day your support quietly makes this work possible. You are part of a great symbiosis.

Glenn Lamb, Executive Director