By Maurice Carter, Sustainable Newton Cofounder & Past President
"Brighten the corner where you are."
It's a line Ray Anderson internalized from Sunday school as a boy, and he used it often to lift up those around him and inspire them to make a difference. Even though cancer took Ray from his family and his life's work in 2011, that same spirit was ever-present for those of us who assembled Sunday for the Ray C. Anderson Foundation's RayDay celebration at Serenbe.
Sustainable Newton was deeply honored to be invited back this year as one of 66 eco-exhibitors on hand to mingle with the ~2,200 guests who gathered to honor Ray's legacy, to see old friends, to forge new bonds, and to revel in our shared commitment to climate action.
For me, it was also a day to be reminded we are not alone. That the light we make in our little corner of the world here in Newton County can be seen from far away. As he did last year, Ray C. Anderson Foundation Trustee Philip Langford (Ray's son-in-law) stopped by our booth early in the day to visit and remind us of how much our work means to him personally, to Ray's family, and to everyone with the foundation. When Phil tells stories about Ray's life and the "spear in the chest" moment that changed business as we know it, he brings to life a man I never had the pleasure of meeting. "I'm watching ya'll," Phil told us. I see what you're doing out there. You guys get it. You are the model."
The foundation's Executive Director (and Ray's grandson) John Lanier graciously shared his time to record comments for an upcoming video we are making about our work. Phil and John's support tells us in no uncertain terms that the light we're making in our little corner is important to the world. Walking through the exhibit area, there were smiles, handshakes, and hugs from our dear friends with the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, Drawdown Georgia, and the Georgia Climate Project (all initiatives funded by the foundation). There is nothing more energizing than the realization that you are not alone, that your work matters, and that you are part of a much, much greater whole.
Ambling through those grounds, seeing so many familiar faces, I came upon a sign with another quote from Ray: "Be a rainbow in a cloudy sky: one person, every person can make a difference."
And that's what I brought home with me, in my heart, from RayDay... The realization that the beams of light we're all making in our own little corners are the rays of hope that together are painting a magnificent rainbow across to the space between today and tomorrow.
Here for all your talent you may surely find a need
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed
Brighten the corner where you are
Lyrics by Ina Duley Ogdon