Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.
Spencer Beebe is the founder of the nonprofit Ecotrust, based in Portland, Oregon.
Spencer Beebe: "To think that we can destroy the planet is a kind of backhanded pride. It reflects an inflated sense of our own importance and a contempt for the power of natural forces at work in the world. But we should know by now that as a species we are genetically incapable of leaving things alone. We are going to make things better, or we are going to make things worse. More often than not, we are going to make things worse by trying to make them better. That isn't pessimism; it's realism.
"We have to engage in a process that will bring about things we would not have thought of if we hadn't begun working with individuals and groups in Willapa Bay. It takes, among other things, a willingness to relinquish control, a resilience in the face of surprise, a playfulness about possibilities and a trust in natural processes. In a word, it takes a kind of optimism."