SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
18 December 2014
Volume 15 Issue 12
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Three Teens, Mom and the Christmas Tree

All of us have some winter holiday traditions. One of ours was the annual purchase of a live Douglas fir for our Christmas tree. Always put up two weeks before Christmas and always taken down two weeks after.

The year I entered high school, mom proposed we purchase, put up and, of all horrors, decorate a fake tree! To her it made all the sense in the world both financially and pragmatically, as she was solo parenting three teenagers. The revolt began, the line drawn and our heals dug in. The teenage sibling platform, “No way, fake trees were an abomination we would not take part in. If one was purchased, we would not help put it up, not help decorate it, not put gifts under it (of course we weren’t willing to give up the gifts, they would just go under “our” tree and not “her” fake tree) nor help take it down.” Horrible teenagers.

Mom relented in the face of the fire storm, and to this day, we enjoy the scent of Douglas fir at Christmastime at her house.

The tree at my house ... is fake (though very realistic). My husband and I are raising three teenagers.

I wish all of you wonderful winter or summer (depending which side of the equator you call home) holiday celebrations full of all your favorite traditions!

 

Tradition with a Twist?

Mary Reiley, SETAC North America President

I don’t take tradition lightly. Our traditions are years in the making and stem from our common history. Whether they are family traditions, national traditions or SETAC traditions, they are an outward expression of our ideals, a celebration of our success and provide continuity to our businesses and our lives.

Messing with tradition outright does not go over well with most folks. In general, we don’t like intrusions on the “givens” in our lives. However, we do find ourselves having to grow up, and part of that is adjusting traditions or starting new ones in order to accommodate something newly important to us: a new spouse, new children, grown children, aging parents, career change, new city, new country or new thinking. Sometimes we keep the tradition but tweak the way we implement it. We take advantage of new technology, new disciplines or new approaches to keep our traditions current without stripping them of their significance or usefulness (for a personal anecdote of tradition foibles, feel free to find humor in the text box to the right).

The traditions we started in 1979 reflected the times and a young society. Still, they ground us to our core principles: multidisciplinary approaches, balanced representation and objective science brought together to solve environmental problems. I believe that over the next several years and into the future, we will find new ways to use our traditional forums, activities and celebrations, plus add a few new ones to hasten our purpose and engage all of us in our mission to support the development of principles and practices for protection, enhancement and management of sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity.

“Tradition with a Twist” started more than a few years ago. We have been working hard for years to keep our traditional science and membership programs current. Some of our efforts took a while to be successful – we tried a couple of online community and collaboration tools before finding one that met our needs. In some cases we made necessary changes but still missed the old-school flexibilities – the year we made the final break from acetates and overhead projectors to slides and carousels we discovered on-the-fly-revisions weren’t possible. Up-side-down and backwards was the new standard, and the new technology required new mental dexterity. Yes, I realize that many of you joined after the transition to PowerPoint – that was a show (feel free to ask me about it)!  Now we are venturing into the digital world. The very publication you are reading went digital only a few years ago, which has been a huge success. Recordings of sessions and speakers make much of the SETAC North America annual meeting available to the membership and anyone else interested in environmental sciences. Granted, the first year was what I call “a learning season,” but the SETAC Vancouver product is much-improved from those lessons.

We have other new initiatives to strengthen our traditions of objective science and quality member services. We are progressing with a certification program for ecological risk assessment, environmental toxicology and environmental chemistry, re-engaging our environmental engineers to improve our interdisciplinary problem solving, re-constituting our Public Outreach Committee to bring objective science to decision makers as we recently did for US congressional staff for TSCA reform, and updating our vision and mission statements to make sure they speak to the times and to our traditions.

Keeping with the “Tradition with a Twist” theme, I returned from Vancouver determined to meet and talk with more of you. Our SETAC staff has made this possible by establishing the SETAC North America President’s Blog. I know the only way to keep a blog engaging is to keep it fresh. I will do my very best to post once a week. I have a long list of potential topics including what is going on in SETAC North America and around the SETAC world, things I have learned over the years from mentors and leaders I truly respect, travel adventures, funny (at least in retrospect) stories and even a few perspectives on science.

I sincerely hope you will join me online. Even more importantly, I implore you to write back. Comment on my posts and those of your associates. Keep the conversation engaging, funny, focused or rambling. Who knows where a tangent will take us.

Author's contact information: president.sna@setac.org

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