I often say that the beauty of the Virginia Piedmont is not an accident. And over the course of 2022, PEC has been contemplating and celebrating 50 years of collective effort conserving and protecting this place we love so much as we also plan for a more sustainable future. Our founding Board of Directors, representing communities across the nine-county service area, knew that the growth of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and the expansion of Virginia’s economy would require thoughtful changes to towns and villages beyond the Capitol city’s borders, careful management of new areas of development, and specific efforts to hold onto the important, and fragile, open spaces, natural resources, historic landscapes and beauty of the surrounding countryside.
As we highlight in each issue of the Piedmont View, the combined efforts since 1972 of PEC board members, staff, volunteers, and supporters have resulted in a strong foundation of community-based advocacy and direct participation in planning and conservation. On Oct. 1, we are celebrating those results through a combination of activities, including the upcoming Farm to Fork dinner, auction, and social sculpture performance of Ridgeline, led by world-renowned artist Elizabeth Turk. Each activity highlights what has been accomplished through the efforts of so many landowners and community leaders over the past 50 years and what is possible in the future. As PEC’s communications team consistently documents, the Piedmont is a beautiful place and well worth our persistence and our perseverance!
During the past year, PEC’s board and staff have been working on a new, updated strategic plan that will guide us forward, applying those traditions as we respond to the new challenges and opportunities of 2022. As the communities of the Virginia Piedmont plan for a changing climate and new economic development pressures, our staff work continuously to understand their potential impacts and to improve access to new and expanded support for conservation, restoration, and land management from governmental programs and private sector investment.
Our evolving strategies are grappling with the enormous investment in information technology industries in Virginia. The numerous data centers taking advantage of the fiber optic networks across the state require a huge expansion of energy infrastructure and a new generation of electricity. How do we balance the advantages of expanded access to information, data and entertainment with the need to sustain natural systems that provide us with the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the open spaces that we need for recreation and solace? We look forward, as always, in working with you to discover and implement the best ideas.
Chris Miller, President
This story appeared in The Piedmont Environmental Council’s member newsletter, The Piedmont View. If you’d like to become a PEC member or renew your membership, please visit pecva.org/join.