On the morning of September 14, members of the Monadnock Conservancy gathered in the Redfern Arts Center for their 30 annual celebration. Since 1989, the Monadnock Conservancy has succeeded in protecting and preserving 21,000 acres of forest and farmland across the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, and has sought to [www.monadnockconservancy.org] “provide opportunities for recreation, education, and experiences that touch the heart and soul.” This year’s celebration included a performance of poetry and chamber music called “The Earth Has Music for Those Who Listen” by local musicians Mike Keely and Elise Kuder of the Apple Hill String Quartet. The performance involved a reading of poetry and several pieces of classical and contemporary chamber music, all centered around the connection between nature and human expression. One piece titled “Hermit Thrush and Love” was written for the concert by Keene State alum Miriam Sharrock, who graduated in 2014. Sharrock said her inspiration came from the birdsong she hears in her day-to-day life. “I live in a yurt,” she said, “so the sounds are all around me.”
The nearly 100 members of the conservancy gathered in the Alumni Recital Hall, and Monadnock Conservancy president Steve Larmon gave his opening remarks. He spoke of the organization’s efforts to engage more with the community in the coming year, and the connections which benefit all aspects of our world. “Music and nature inspire each other,” said Larmon. Next, Executive Director Ryan Owens spoke on the importance of “honoring different ways people connect to nature” and the necessity of conservancy changing along with the world it seeks to protect. When asked about the choice of Keene State as a venue, Owens said, “we usually have visual art [at our celebrations],” but with this year’s musical performance they wanted to “focus on the sonic quality” provided by KSC’s facilities. “We’re usually involved in smaller towns in the area… but with a larger budget, new possibilities for venues emerged.” Monadnock Conservancy has had a successful year, with recently completed projects in Dublin, Walpole and Winchester, the latter of which has allowed acres of nature paths to begin construction for the Winchester Learning Center. Their newest project is the preservation of Cunningham Pond in Peterborough. If the estimated $1,500,000 can be raised, 100 acres of shoreline will be preserved, protected and become available for public access projects.
Before the performance, Stewardship Director Rebecca DiGirolomo presented awards to two members of the conservancy. Paul Kotila, a professor of biology and environmental science at Franklin Pierce University and member of the Monadnock Conservancy for over 20 years, received the Founders’ award. Dee Robbins, a member for over ten years, received the Volunteer of the Year Award. Both were praised for their dedication to the organization, their indomitable spirit and attitude and their contributions to the community at large.
After the performance, Mike Kelley of the Apple String Quartet said “There are so many connections in this area. The conservancy, Our non-profit, Keene State… Being in this chamber hall, it’s great to see all those connections.”
Connor Adams can be reached