I remember the first time I visited Paula and William Merwin at their house on Maui in the 1990s, and how I thought it extraordinary that William had built his house so beautifully situated in a dense palm jungle. As I recently wrote in a piece for Granta Magazine, I had no idea at the time that the opposite was true, the house came first. William had actually planted this vibrant, chattering forest himself, one tree at a time, with its hundreds of palm species, an awe inspiring garden which continues to flourish today. Only a visionary, someone with a clear message to the planet and his fellow human beings, could have undertaken such a project.
Twenty-five years later I have the distinct honor of succeeding Matt Schwartz as the President of the Merwin Conservancy Board of Directors. Enormous congratulations and gratitude are due Matt for a decade of surefooted and generous leadership. As a result of his devotion, the Conservancy enters an exciting new phase of its evolution on solid ground with a vital organization where, like the forest itself, only an idea once existed.
There is, of course, much work to be done now that the Merwins’ house and palm forest are managed by the Conservancy. Our wonderful staff, led by Sonnet, as well as our board and our advisors, are all thrilled at the prospect of the nascent Merwin residency program kicking off in the coming year following important restoration work on the house, of continued Green Room programing both online and in person (as soon as possible), our education programs, the continued maintenance of the palm collection and grounds, the restoration of William’s dojo and so much more. Meanwhile, we will continue our focus on living up to the important aspirations of diversity, equity and inclusion both within the board and for the audience we serve.
In closing I’d like to welcome to the Merwin Conservancy board two new members, Gabby Ahuli‘i Ferreira Holt and Richard Andrews. I look forward to working with them both.
Me ke aloha,