Director’s Blog 1/18/19

Director’s Blog January 18, 2019
By Ian Billick, PhD

Last week I talked finances. Now I’m talking heartstrings though I’m more comfortable talking numbers. My undergrad degree was in math and physics. My job often involves reducing emotion in charged situations rather than feeding the fire.
But my life was changed irrevocably in 1988 when I arrived in Gothic. I eventually met my wife, Jennie, admittedly not the first Gothic romance for either of us. We timed the births of Cormac and Giles to happen after the summer craziness but before spring research applications start rolling in. RMBL will always define not just the birthdays of our kids but the contours of our family.

What does this have to do with RMBL’s strategic plan? Community stands at the heart of the Board’s vision to unleash the power of place. Community drives a deeper understanding of the world. The beauty brings people to Gothic, but community brings scientists back. It is the glue that holds us together when our personal pressures, insecurities, and miscommunications pull us apart.

When scientists commit to the community, Gothic becomes more than just a place to do fieldwork. The fun of kids and grandkids growing up in Gothic fosters decadal long research programs. Conversations over dinner spark new scientific directions. Scientists share data, ideas, and research sites in part because of the joy of collaborating with old friends. Or maybe in 30 years that new collaborator might be an old friend?? Not everybody who visits Gothic will weave RMBL into their lives. But community is a wonderful gift that our long-time scientists offer.

When we think about RMBL’s strategic plan, from designing the Mt. CB campus, to managing the scientific growth, nurturing community drives our thinking. How do we maintain community as more people are attracted to RMBL? How will a new campus three miles away from Gothic pull us together rather than split us apart? This blog is already too long to go into answers today. We do not always get it right. But we think about community all the time. It’s why Jennie and I are still here.

In making our lives richer, we make the world a better place. Community generates knowledge that would otherwise not exist, knowledge that really matters to the world. That’s a vision and a strategic plan that excites the Board. We think it will continue to excite the Gothic community, as well as people who may never visit Gothic! If you have ideas on how to foster community, let us know!