Ten years ago, almost to the day, I first learned about Dogwood Alliance. At the time, they were lone wolves, fighting an industry that was literally grinding mature Southern Forests into dust and shipping them down river to be made into disposable paper products. My husband (then boyfriend) and I were inspired by Dogwood’s smarts and their spirit. We then moved to the South in order to be closer to the fight and to do what we could to help.
I have much to thank Dogwood for: my husband, my home (New Englander turned Southerner!), and my skills as an environmental activist. In short: this organization kicks butt.
Ten years later the paper industry in the South is accustomed to the close and enduring engagement of its citizens, citizens that will not tolerate the wanton destruction of the forests they hold dear. The industry is changing its ways. The proof is in the pudding. In ten years, Dogwood Alliance has secured environmental paper policies from at least twice that many companies, including the largest paper retailers in the country – Staples, Office Max and Office Depot . They have also secured environmental paper policies from Bowater, the largest newsprint manufacturer in the US.
How do they do it?
- By mobilizing people like me, who care and are hungry to be pro-active.
- By understanding how corporations think and how their needs and weaknesses can be turned to their – and the forests – advantage.
- And by always operating from a place that expects the best from every person they engage with – whether a volunteer, a staff person, or the CFO of a fortune 500 company.
It is amazing what a little bit of optimism gets you in a world that is plagued by so many challenges.
So near my tenth anniversary of being a citizen of our Southern Forests, I would like to say Thank You to my dear friends who make up the Dogwood Alliance.
Robyn Williams Heeks