It has been two full weeks since my team left Louisiana and disaster response. We spent a week back in Mississippi with all of the other corps members relaxing and preparing for our next project. It was weird to be back in that environment but I thoroughly enjoyed the ability to reflect and spend time with some of my favorite people both on my team and off.
We are now in Norton, VA building a mountain bike trail. Let me start by saying I have never seen fall leaves change colors since I’m from California but man, I’m really starting to understand the hype. Its also really great because we are creating something beneficcial to add to this community. Norton is a town that used to be all about the coal mining industry. But when it started to go downhill over half of the mines in the area shut down and the majority of people lost their jobs. So not only have the citizens found themselves lost and struggling, but the town itself has had an economic decline as well. The goal is to re-develop the city’s economy to be based on the eco-tourism industry. The trail we create will be one small part of that development.
Coming from disaster relief it feels good, and a little sore, to be able to carve something productive out of the earth. Louisiana was where we go into people’s homes who have lost everything and then throw whatever is inside onto the curb for everyone to drive by and see. We were deconstructing and demolishing what one stable thing they had, their homes. It was too easy to get lost in the work and skim over the reasons as to why we were there. But here we are able to walk onto the beautiful yet cold work site and just start sculpting out the next piece of Norton’s future. Its certainly not easy work and in fact may be more physically demanding that mucking and gutting, but its positive.
We have gone from demolishing the inside of people’s homes to it’s studs, to creating a pathway to a new future from the ground up. I’m ready to keep going.