Sunday, March 28, 2010

“No One Does it Alone” – Part II

It bothers me somewhat to see leaders, receiving honors and given credit for their success. Whether they be CEO of a corporation, a successful start-up company or the head coach of a winning football team. Folks, they didn’t do it alone! Rare is the one who truly did it alone. To not acknowledge and give credit to those who contribute to their success is to my way of thinking, nothing more than theft. I realize there are different degrees of help that have contributed to one’s success, but the individual being honored, he knows. I have lived with a philosophy that says you can be as successful as you want to if you don’t care who gets the credit.

After forty-one years of long hours and hard work, I can truly say I could never have brought SELAH to where it is today by myself. Although I may have been the “architect,” Leroy Petri was the engineer. He joined me thirty-nine years ago. He is a Jack of All Trades and master of them all.

Leroy Petri holding court at a Water Workshop.
Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

His marks are everywhere on the ranch. They include Madrone Lake and twenty other ponds and tanks, top quality roads, fences and steel buildings. Also grass covered prairies where cedar once dominated and wonderful spring water piped into all the houses. I could go on and on about Leroy. He has educated and trained many summer interns as well as adults that have attended our workshops. He has gone with us when we were asked to give advice on someone’s new land purchase . . . No, I didn’t do it alone ~ no one does.

Board members gather before a meeting. Seated clockwise from the lower left are: Mary Wallace, Dallas, TX; Ann Cook, Blanco, TX; Helen Ballew, San Antonio, TX; Chap Hutcheson, Houston, TX; Judy Confer, Baltimore, MD; Anne Donovan and M.S. of Austin, TX. Photograph taken by J. David.

At certain times in our lives things happen ~ circumstances change, it’s unplanned, but the opportunity arises for each of us to rearrange our lives ~ not necessarily to get rid of the old, but to adapt new thinking – this happened to me over thirty years ago and it has lead to the creation of SELAH as a permanent foundation, preserved for Mother Nature in perpetuity. With a volunteer Board of Directors we are together building an institution . . . No, I cannot do it alone and I do need your help.

There are so many, many good causes that need financial help. Preserving the earth itself is important. So, if you would like to help us with a donation, we are a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation and gifts are deductible to the extent of the law. You can send your contributions to: Bamberger Ranch Preserve, 2341 Blue Ridge Drive, Johnson City, TX 78636.

Everyone that knows me asks, “When did you learn how to blog?” . . . They all know that I’m not a techy type of guy, that I have trouble with a push button phone! So posting this blog is something I damn sure couldn’t do alone, even if given a month! Thanks to Chris Johnson who does it for me. Chris performed this service for my wife, Margaret, and after she died I was encouraged to keep the blog going. No definitely I couldn’t do it alone . . . A neat thing Chris does in his own world is maintain a screech owl nest box on line ~ So check onto and see what goes on in the owl world!

Monday, March 15, 2010

No One Does It Alone

I’ve been writing this blog for one year. Telling stories about myself and happenings here from the drought to visiting groups and occasionally a little science. Maybe I made it all sound too easy or like the staff and I did all the great things here that have drawn so much publicity. I know I’ve written about our volunteers ~ “worker bees” I call them, but I haven’t said much about our Board of Directors who are volunteers here also. So with Helen Ballew’s permission, I’m relaying to you a message she has written in regards to her new position as Director of a unique conservation project in San Antonio. I believe you will feel the strength of her convictions and passion for conservation that makes me so lucky to have her as a Board member of our Preserve.

From the Headwaters Newsletter, December 29, 2009, page 1:

Message from the Director

Dear Friends,

Welcome back to the Headwaters! My name is Helen Ballew and I am the new director at the Headwaters Coalition. I am looking forward to meeting you if I haven’t already and inviting you once again to help us create a sanctuary for nature and the spirit that is worthy of this historic place.

I first came to the headwaters in 1986, my very first month in San Antonio. The late Maury Maverick brought me to the Blue Hole in the course of orienting me to my new town. I had come to San Antonio with The Nature Conservancy to help foster a land ethic between Texans and their land. The Blue Hole became for me a kind of spiritual retreat: a place of peace, beauty and quiet reflection in the heart of a bustling city. It stirred in my city-weary spirit a sense of what Wordsworth called “natural piety. ”

I could wish my days/to be bound each to each/in natural piety.
—William Wordsworth, The Intimations Ode

Whether we realize it or not, we need such places in our lives. As recent events in Copenhagen attest, this is truly a critical time in our human history.

Never was there a time when the Earth cried out more for us to wake up, be mindful, have heart, and act accordingly.

Our connection to places like the Headwaters can help us wake up to the harm our civilization has done to the Earth, be mindful of what a right relationship with the Earth looks like, have heart to mend our ways, and act with courage to restore health to the land, waters, and ultimately our selves.

I may be new to this project—this relatively new ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word—but I am not new to the nature lover’s cause. Already I see so many rich and powerful symbols and stories and lessons emanating from this home of the “Spirit Waters.” I look forward to sharing what I’m learning with you and learning from your own deep engagement with the Headwaters.

We have our work cut out for us in doing honor to the Blue Hole and the “spring field” around it, the last remaining undeveloped parcel of land first purchased by the Sisters of Charity over 100 years ago. We must befriend the neighbors, restore and safeguard the springs, heal the land, listen to the elders, make and mark the trails, find the tools and recruit the helpers, raise the money, learn the history, teach the children, share the stories – all in the spirit of Earth stewardship.

I am grateful to the Sisters for setting aside this last 53 acres including the Blue Hole to become a sanctuary. Humans have had a relationship with this land and its former “fountain spring” for over 11,000 years and while much of the land has already been put to other uses, it is possible that in time this sanctuary will become the most significant use of all.

It’s going to be a wild, difficult and wonderful ride, and I can’t wait to welcome you—as you welcome me—along the way.


Helen Ballew

P.S. Please consider making a year-end contribution to the Headwaters Coalition as an expression of your recommitment to this place and this project. Your contribution will go directly into restoration and education.

Visit our website to make your donation online:

Helen brought the Board of Directors to the ranch and wrote this story. It was a very cold day as you can tell by the way the sisters are bundled up. Helen also brought lunch for a picnic which was held in my house. It was a great day ~ a Selah moment!

From the Headwaters Newsletter, December 29, 2009, page 3:

Selah: Pause & Reflect

On Tuesday, December 16, 2009 several members of the Headwaters board of directors and core committee made a pilgrimage to Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve, the 5,500-acre ecological restoration success story of J. David Bamberger, Texas’s 2009 Aldo Leopold Conservation Award winner. With his keen wit, unconventional mind, caring heart and fire in the belly, J. David led the Headwaters group tour sharing stories of his life, work, family history, and love of the land. J. David’s passion for Mother Nature inspired him some forty years ago to want to assume the challenge of restoring ecological health to what was once “the sorriest piece of land in Blanco County.” Indicators of his success at Selah include grasslands reclaimed from cedar breaks, perennial springs flowing where once there were none, a five-fold increase in the number of bird species, an increase to hundreds of species of native trees and over thirty species of native grasses, and white-tailed deer weighing in at several times the average weight for Hill Country deer, among other things. If our intent was in part to gain inspiration for our own challenge of ecological restoration at the Headwaters, we succeeded. Our thanks to J. David Bamberger and Justin Duke, a Selah staffer, for their hospitality!

Left to right: Adela Gott, UIW staff; Dr. Sally Said, UIW faculty; Dr. Sara Tallarovic, UIW faculty; Sister Cindy Stacy, Headwaters board member; Sister Yolanda Tarango, Headwaters board chair and General Councilor of the Congregation of Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word; and Sister Feliciana Mejia, Council member of the Congregation of Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

There are so many, many good causes that need financial help. Preserving the earth itself is important. So, if you would like to help us with a donation, we are a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation and gifts are deductible to the extent of the law. You can send your contributions to: Bamberger Ranch Preserve, 2341 Blue Ridge Drive, Johnson City, TX 78636.