Author: Secretary Reid Wilson
What I hope to accomplish with Common Ground is to remind North Carolinians, through a focus on our state’s rich history, diverse arts and culture, and spectacular natural areas, that we have a whole lot more in common than we sometimes think.
Every day I feel fortunate to lead the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources because we take care of the things that people love about our state, literally from A to Z - art museums to the zoo. Plus so much more: 42 parks, 27 historic sites, seven history museums, five science museums, the African American Heritage Commission, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, land and water stewardship, archaeology, the American Indian Heritage Commission, historic preservation, the state Arts Council, Symphony, Archives and Library.
That’s a lot, and I challenge anyone to claim that they don’t like any of those things! These are all state entities, so we all own them, and we all share them.
I believe that all of these places, and the ideas they represent, help create a shared identity among us as North Carolinians. They create Common Ground, an increasingly rare commodity these days. I can’t think of anything that represents common ground more than a trail in a state park, a history museum exhibit, or a school field trip to a science museum. Everyone is welcome, everyone is treated with respect.
I travel a lot, visiting our DNCR sites and organizations that we collaborate with. I’m always struck by the sense of community we help foster. Last month I visited Lake James State Park near Morganton to see the progress on the construction of the new Visitors Center (almost done!).
Just down the path from the Visitors Center is a brand new bridge over an arm of the lake that connects segments of the Fonta Flora State Trail. Local leaders raised funds for this project, literally building a bridge for the community.
But what struck me most about my visit was the BBQ and hot dog lunch with non-profits and local governments who support outdoor recreation. I had expected maybe 10-12 people. But no. More than 30, from eight organizations, all devoted to expanding and improving parks and trails in their corner of the state. The groups and our parks staff are all pulling together to make North Carolina an even better place to live – healthy, fun, and economically vibrant for everyone.
I plan to post a couple of times a month. I hope you’ll read them. Thanks!
Looking for your own adventure? Check out our PATH program – Parks and Trails for Health and pick your path.