"I believe that if we see everything here on this earth as a precious resource – animals, minerals, soil, water, and humans (our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, folks we see on the streets, in the stores, all humans) - and not as something or someone to be discarded or disregarded, that then positive change/caring happens," said 2011 Sabbatical recipient Molley Boyer. Read more of her interview in this week's post.
Earlier this month, and for the sixth year in a row, the Foundation announced the names of individuals selected for the Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Program.
Given the importance we have placed on sabbaticals here at the Foundation, we decided to blog this week with a deep dive into the story of one of this year’s recipients. After a random drawing from among the names, we engaged in an email question-and-answer session with Ms. Mollie Boyer, Executive Director of Valley Community for Recycling Solutions (VCRS).
Ms. Boyer’s family has a half-century history in Alaska. As a young man, her father worked in Douglas and her oldest brother was born in Juneau in1942. Ms. Boyer first moved to Alaska in 1973, and her recent activities in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley has led to a grassroots movement committed to the ideals of recycling that has resulted in the newly opened Regional Resource Recovery and Training Park, a green building that functions as a collection and processing plant, recovered resources broker, and educational and training facility. During her sabbatical, she plans to travel and pursue personal interests.
Rasmuson Foundation: It looks like 2010-11 is an exciting time for Valley Community for Recycling Solutions. New building. Sabbatical award for its Executive Director. How are you feeling these days?
Boyer: I am tired but I still feel strongly about the importance of changing our waste habits, personally, locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally, and on working together to achieve this change. Recently I had a strong feeling that I really wanted to go “away.” And the very next thought that sprang into my mind were a couple of the laws of physics – that everything moves and nothing disappears – an origin of there is no “away.” So right now I am attempting to stay focused and steadily put one foot in front of the other until my sabbatical and then during and after my sabbatical. This is a beautiful place we live, this earth, caring for our home is only natural.
RF: Riffing on the physics analogy, quantum theory suggests that you cannot observe anything without affecting it. Do you think by focusing attention on recycling you are changing your community?
Boyer: Observation – education – understanding – I believe that we/VCRS is providing the opportunity for our community to see the pieces of the puzzle –from resources to products to discards back to resources to products …. I believe that if we see everything here on this earth as a precious resource – animals, minerals, soil, water, and humans (our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, folks we see on the streets, in the stores, all humans) – and not as something or someone to be discarded or disregarded, that then positive change/caring happens.
RF: Has the new recycling center opened to the public yet? How long has this been in the works?
Boyer: The new recycling facility opened for residential recycling drop off on December 16. This is the first Regional Resource Recovery & Training Park in Alaska. A small group of folks interested in seeing recycling in the Mat-Su met in December of 1997 to discuss what that might look like. Over the next couple of months this group set two goals – our first and short-term goal was to address the apathy in the community towards the possibility of a recycling program that could be sustained. Towards this end we held 21 quarterly “One Stop” events, the first one in April of 1998 and then in December of 2002 we opened our community recycling center at the old Moffitt farm on the Palmer-Wasilla Hwy. Our long-term goal was to establish recycling permanently into the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (MSB) Solid Waste Management plan and into the infrastructure of our community. The new recycling center represents the achievement of our second and long-term goal. The new facility is located on the footprint of the MSB Central Landfill. Our program is recognized in both the MSB Solid Waste Management Plan and in the MSB Community Economic Development Strategy.
RF: Any closing thoughts before you take a much needed rest?
Boyer: VCRS and I appreciate the support that the Rasmuson Foundation has given our program over the years and your recognition of the importance of the continuity of leadership for building of a strong sustainable service organization and yet the challenge that that leadership entails. I look forward to sharing with the Rasmuson Foundation what I learn on my sabbatical and returning to VCRS renewed and reenergized.
RF: Thanks, Mollie. And thanks to all the nonprofit and tribal leaders who provide top-notch services in our communities.