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Notes from the trail:
Kindra Greene

Change & Purpose

In the novel The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan asks, “Do you ever wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it?” I’ll admit the past few summers have been a flurry of activity, but I made a point to not miss the solstice this year. Waking early to take in every moment of sunlight and leaving the office late to walk the trail until the last bits of gold slip down into the Elizabeth River.

Though I think I say this every month, June has been exceedingly busy. The solstice, beyond being the longest day, is also a potent time for new energy, new beginnings and reconnecting to a sense of purpose or calling. Having a fiscal year that ends in June rather than a calendar year, makes more sense to me now. We elect new board members, say goodbye to others, recommit to our goals, review strategic plans and this year transition our Foundation Board Chair after three years of service. It is indeed a time of change and renewed purpose.

There were so many big moments that the ERT Foundation was fortunate to be a witness to this month. The signing of Norfolk’s Commitment to the Coastal Resilience Project, the ribbon cutting of the Ohio Creek Watershed Project and the groundbreaking of the Fairwinds offshore wind project. All things that speak to our region becoming more resilient and sustainable and where the ERT can be more than just a trail.


I also had the opportunity to participate in the YWCA’s Racial Equity and Social Transformation (R.E.S.T.) conference at Norfolk State University and a Community Resilience Challenge Design Workshop in partnership with LISC Hampton Roads and RISE Resilience. Both of these conferences were transformative in helping us as a Foundation continue to learn and grow in the areas of equity and resilience. I see the Elizabeth River Trail at the intersection of so many community needs and I hope that together we can continue to be stronger.

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Since “all things great are wound up with all things little” I want to share a speech I gave this month at an intimate backyard family memorial I was honored to be invited to:

On behalf of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation, I’m honored to be included in the celebration of the life of Thomas Ellis Welch. The Elizabeth River Trail, or ERT, as it exists now, was built upon parts of the very route Mr. Welch traveled nearly daily by bicycle for 50 years.

Riding his bike from the west end of Norfolk to the oceanfront, along loosely connected spurs and old railway tracks, to what we now know as the ERT took vision to imagine such a connection, as Mr. Welch did.

The trail, even before its existence, was the centerpiece in the lives of so many. One of the founding board members of our Foundation, now in his 70’s remembers running the trail “in the 1980’s, navigating a path between West Ghent and downtown Norfolk on a little used railroad track that crossed over the entrance to the Midtown tunnel by Fort Norfolk. The pathway had treacherous footing over rail ties curving around warehouses, but offered great scenic views of the Elizabeth River.”

The Foundation has made those views of our beautiful working waterfront accessible and open to all.

I like to imagine that these two men would have intersected. One on foot, one by bike, both maintaining an active lifestyle, uncovering the opportunities in Norfolk to do so, even before that infrastructure was in place, and blazing a trail forward to bring us to today, where the ERT stands on the edge of a major opportunity to continue east connecting to our sister city in Virginia Beach and a regional trail that would take us all the way to the oceanfront!

Thank you to the family of Thomas Welch for inviting me here today, and to Mr. Welch himself for showing us the way.


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