By Hazel Stark
On a recent saunter through one of our wonderfully lush Downeast forests, my thoughts were interrupted by a fallen tree. Cushioned by a bed of sphagnum moss and sprigs of purpling wintergreen leaves upon its fall, this tree’s roots now stood over ten feet high, towering over the trunk of this former giant. This bold reminder of roots offered an important reflection. No tree is truly independent or supported by one deep carrot-like taproot. Instead, trees have a shallow expanding network of intertwining roots that partner with fungi to exchange nutrients with each other and communicate about nearby diseases or other threats to the forest community: interspecies collaboration at its very best.
When I first learned of the CCLC in 2015 while searching for a place to do an internship as part of my Masters studies, its more than 15-year-old “roots” were what stood out to me first. Like a tree, the CCLC does not have one deep taproot; its growth has been supported by an expansive, diverse network of community members, funders, and partners. It is this network that has helped the CCLC stay healthy as it continues to provide responsive educational opportunities to strengthen the well-being of all. Just as a tree’s roots allow the tree to thrive through collaboration with others so that the tree may bear fruit, the CCLC continues to bear the fruit of impact due to its intertwining, expanding network of roots.