Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Special Thanks To All My Volunteers and Those Who Have Offered Us Encouragement As We Built a Train

Years from now when I look back on this summer, it will be remembered as the summer that I, along with a plethora of volunteers built a train in our small hamlet of Mountaindale. The task that many thought would not happen is rapidly coming to a close. The project on our little section of the Rails to Trails coming to an end as our volunteers, my summer intern, Aaron Schmitt, and I put the finishing touches on the sculptural interpretation of the old O&W steam locomotive number 33 that crashed here back in 1904.

Hundreds of hours have been poured into this project, and countless volunteers have given of themselves, their time, and their assets to make it possible. There were days that seemed too long until someone would come along the trail walking, biking or on a segway to say hello, and offer us a kind word of encouragement. I remember the day we took the forklift and brought the first section of the train up onto the trail, remember the day we welded together four old 55 gallon drums over beside Raymon's studio, and recall that Saturday when Barb Schmitt and I went over to the Manza Family Farm to pick out our plants. Those and so many other memories will stay with me.

As the project came together, and our efforts started seeing a dream come into reality, rehab materials, lumber, drums, screws and found parts starting to resemble a train, plants going into the dirt, people started showing up to help out and lend a hand...especially children, a whole flock of them that would stop by each evening around 5:30 wanting to know what we were doing on this particular day, and what they could do to be a part of it all. Somehow, just at the crucial moment, things we needed, or needed done all just fell into place, someone stepping up to provide just what it was we needed at that precise moment in time. Our little train was not the singular effort of one person, one group, but a collaboration of some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege to work with.

Sitting here with my morning coffee, I realize my days on the trail are realistically now measured in hours, not weeks and days, the time when you could find me on the trail almost any time of the day seven days a week all but over. Those days have been hard days, but happy ones, and ones that will be missed. So, to all those who gave of themselves and their time, to all those who volunteered, to all those that made a hard task so much easier with your kind words and compliments, I offer a heart felt Thank You, and want all of you to know that our 2011 Renaissance Project, our train garden stands as a testament to all of you, a tribute to what Community is truly all about.