I’m writing this on a Friday afternoon. Like most days my head is full of ideas & excitement, my heart feels fulfilled, but I am absolutely exhausted. One telling sign was earlier this week – I found myself growing increasingly frustrated when having a hard time understanding a colleague, a routine discussion where in the past I feel as though I just would have had more patience. For the past three years, I have regularly spoken to students at both UW & WLU, often about my ongoing journey in co-founding Sustainable Waterloo Region. In telling that story, I often touch on how lucky I feel to really love my job. To have such an impact in my community towards an end goal that I feel is critically important. While this is all as true today as it was several years ago, I certainly feel more run-down these days. It’s almost as if the enjoyment has been fogged up by a certain weariness. At the same time, I talk often – inside and outside of the organization – about the need for us to build an organization that is bigger than any of us. I talk about reducing dependency on me, and removing me from the ‘hub’ of many conversations around this office. In fact, recently a long-time volunteer was communicating their frustration with my management style – the volunteer went so far to say they had only decided to continue volunteering because of the number of close friends and relationships they had built up on the team. And while I was keen to sort out the frustration at hand, I was also secretly a little excited: this volunteer was here not only for reasons beyond my involvement, but in spite of my involvement! We worked out the challenge and have been lucky to retain the volunteer as a result. But outside of small anecdotes like these, it can be hard to test an organization’s dependency on one person – until that person is no longer available, right? In light of all of this (and thanks to our flexible vacation policy), this Friday July 22 I’m leaving for a month-long adventure. I’ll be on a bike for most of the time away, eventually winding up in Algonquin Park – while the trip will be bookended by a weekend volunteering at Hillside (if you’re curious, I’m on their equipment crew) and ending with some time visiting friends in Vancouver. Of course I’m excited. The themes for me in this hiatus all centre on adventure & renewal. Of course my work is an adventure in and of itself – there is rarely a dull moment, and as of late this whole ride has only seemingly sped up. As the number of people involved increases, our credibility grows, and our impact widens, so too does the pace and the scrutiny. As I was relating recently to our friends at the Niagara Sustainability Initiative and Sustainable Hamilton: although the challenges will evolve, don’t expect the excitement ever to dampen. But these next four weeks will be about a different sort of adventure for me – one where the challenge is more about building bonds with the landscapes of our beautiful province, rather than the many beautiful people of Waterloo Region. About talking to new friends sharing their couch or backyard with a weary traveller, rather than sharing their time or talent with a growing non-profit. It will be about how my brothers and I will portage to the next lake, rather than how our team will bridge funding to the next revenue source for a new initiative. Most of all, this trip is about renewal. Today I’m yearning for a quiet night spent watching one of the beautiful sunsets we’ve been provided recently. Or some time just to reflect – on life, work, Waterloo Region and everything in between. If I can make a request: for those that contact me during my time away, please try to find another member of the Sustainable Waterloo Region team to connect with in my absence. I’m incredibly proud of the team of people that drive things here, with or without me in the office every day. The team is listed online here: https://www.sustainablewaterlooregion.ca/about-us/our-people/. And if you have an issue that doesn’t seem to fit with any particular team member’s responsibilities, please contact Matthew Day in my absence: matthew.day@sustainablewr.ca. He will either respond or direct your inquiry appropriately. I will be back in the office on Tuesday August 23rd. Today I feel excited both for this trip, and for my return from it. You know those really energizing Monday mornings after a fulfilling weekend? I’m pumped for an epic one of those on Aug 23. Thanks for your patience until then! -Mike