Today as I drove to the Farmington Fair I listened to an NPR broadcast on Maine Public Radio. This show focused on the extinction of birds and other animals on our earth throughout the last 30 years due to our environment and the fragmentation of ecosystems. The presenters questioned if anyone really cared.
One presenter brought up the concept of connecting -- connections. He wondered if the tiger would someday be extinct. He commented, "if a person had never gone to a zoo and looked a tiger in the eye, then why would this person even care if the tiger became extinct in the wild." As I listened I thought of the harness racing industry, the breeders, the drivers, the trainers, and the workers. Then I thought of the small yet loyal fan base attending the harness racing on the Maine Fair Circuit. Within the next fifteen to twenty years how will this fan base be replaced.
The answer is one word -- Connections. However, connections are fragile and complex. However, if a child, a middle school student, or a high school student were to look into the eye of horse, would they care? Would they become connected? Who would become the industry's messengers to promote this complex and fragile process of connecting? My thinking directs me to the Horsemen -- the families and the drivers.
In my work with the Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center, I have, in a manner of speaking, looked the horse in the eye. I have found work and a cause that brings me a great sense of meaning, value, and purpose. I believe that the work of the Center will create connecting opportunities for Mainers to remember the history and importance of the horse throughout Maine. This remembering is the first step to connecting -- a connection I hope brings new people to the industry and a fan base that will support the industry in future years.