Friday, May 30, 2014

Inspired by Elizabeth George

Yesterday (29 May 2014) my husband and I attended a seminar at Camp Casey here on beautiful Whidbey Island.  It was called "Leave a Legacy for What You Love," and featured talks by various residents and financial experts regarding how to best give gifts for furthering the work of one's chosen nonprofits.  The seminar was a joint venture of Whidbey Camano Land Trust, Good Cheer Food Bank, and the Whidbey Institute (once called "Chinook," for you old-timers).

The highlight of the day for me was the concluding talk by Whidbey author Elizabeth George -- probably because I discovered that her leading interests/motivators were so similar to my own. George listed her criteria for giving in this order:  (1) the creative process; (2) love of animals; and (3) preservation of land.  She supports the creative process through gifts from her Elizabeth George Foundation, with funds going to support writers.

The most interesting part of the talk, for me, was learning that George was inspired by the English author Beatrix Potter, who lived much of her life in England's Lakes District.  When Potter began to achieve writing success through her Peter Rabbit stories, she used her money to purchase farmlands around her.  She arranged for her estate to donate these lands to the National Trust, to be forever preserved and not developed.

George had lived in Orange County, California in the 1970s and had experienced the drastic landscape changes through over-development there.  She vowed she would not let that happen to Whidbey Island and, indeed, has been a staunch supporter of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust ( for a long time.

I came away from the conference with a renewed sense of purpose and place.  A key point made by the presenters is that one need not be a millionaire to be a philanthropist.  Small gifts count! Volunteerism counts!  Although we already donate to several nonprofits on the Island, I feel we could do more, and this morning I am checking out volunteer opportunities.

Love where you live -- get involved.  By loving the land and the animals who live there, we also honor our fellow human residents.