Opening thoughts from Resource Media’s new president

September 5, 2012

It is great to be back at Resource Media. No point burying the lead. This is a supremely talented staff working at a craft I consider essential; communications is the lubricant for social change. It is how we form relationships, partnerships, coalitions and campaigns. It is how we bridge the differences in our personal experiences and understand our shared interests. It is how we get together.

I am a self-avowed communications junkie. I love thinking about strategies, new ideas, new tools that utilize the latest technology to target audiences and convene people virtually in ways that shrink the world, and old tools as fundamental as looking someone in the eye and saying what you mean.

Today, though, I am thinking about South Dakota.

This is where my 9-year-old son and I traveled last week, to clear our minds for the parallel challenges of leading a dynamic organization and the start of 4th grade. Yet, as quiet as I tried to keep my cranium, reminders of the world that so needs help were everywhere.  For example:

  • The high on one day was 108 degrees, 55 degrees hotter that the subterranean caverns of Wind Cave from which we were loathe to emerge. Three days were hotter than 100 in Rapid City where the normal high this time of year is in the eighties. No mere quirky heat wave, this was the last gasp of a blistering summer in the Great Plains.
  • On our hikes through the Black Hills, we saw dead, beetle-killed trees everywhere. My son asked about the neat piles of cut timber every hundred yards or so along one trail, trees cut to stop the infestation made worse by warmer winters, earlier springs and years of fire suppression.
  • In Custer State Park and the Badlands, I got a lump in my throat looking at the remnant herds of buffalo; so representative of the long, lost American Serengeti.
  • And Buffalo County, South Dakota is now the nation’s poorest. In fact four of the five poorest counties in America are in South Dakota, a vestige of the tremendous toll the damage to this quintessential American landscape has taken on its original human inhabitants. At the end of every narrative about environmental destruction is a tale of human suffering. These are the stories that really stick with us.

Seeing all this through the eyes of my son made it all the more powerful. I thought often of one of my favorite Native American sayings, “We don’t inherit the world from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

It was a great road trip. Time to get to work.

Scott Miller, President of Resource Media