Light My Fire
Please give it up for ASPCA Shelters’ Edge guest blogger Dave Betournay, ASPCA Community Initiatives Director and president of the New England Federation of Humane Societies.
I am a self-described nerd and information junkie. I read, attend webinars, trainings and summits, and I love a good educational documentary. Yup, a nerd. In fact, I am just returning from the SNIP! Summit in Asheville, NC, put on by the brilliant folks at the Humane Alliance of Western North Carolina—where, over the last few days, more than 800 people came together for a fantastic event centered on high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter (HQHVSN).
Something I have noticed is how sometimes the thing I walk away with is not what I or the information’s source had necessarily intended or expected. Certainly I do absorb information, especially those pieces that strike me as interesting or useful; however, there is another side effect that seems, well, enlightening. I will call them inspired tangents. Presented with certain facts, images or ideas, my mind, and I imagine yours as well, bounces quickly from the facts as presented to implications, applications and possibilities. What happens, at least some of the time, seems organic and electric, and it reminds me of this quote by Yeats:
Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.
I find this quote filled with imagery and, of course, tangent-inspiring. It is no pot, limited by volume and possible to fill, but instead a fire that, starting small and fed or fanned by more learning and the support of others, eventually burns ever brighter and hotter, shining light into increasingly difficult-to-see corners, and lighting a path for those who wish to follow. I could hear this happening around me during the SNIP! Summit in comments and conversations. You could also see, feel, and hear the tremendous appreciation for those at the Humane Alliance who have not only lit more than a few dark corners, but blazed wide new paths into life-saving areas and encouraged others to follow.
I ponder these things as those of us with the New England Federation of Humane Societies pull together the final brush strokes of our three-day regional conference, to be held April 9-11. Hundreds of animal welfare professionals will come from across the region to hear great speakers presenting on important and timely subjects. We will meet others in the field, share stories, discuss issues, support and hopefully inspire each other.
If we have done our job well, before those three days are over, we will have helped light more than a few fires and fanned those flames so that these people can go forward and not just have the information, inspiration and support to do a better job—but that they, too, might shine lights in new corners, blaze some new paths in animal welfare and become new beacons for others to follow.
The next time that someone or something inspires you, follow it, share it with others and just see if it can take you (and us) to important places that we have yet to go.
Stay tuned to Shelter’s Edge this week for additional coverage of the SNIP! Summit. And in the meantime, tell us…what’s lit your fire lately?!