Forest Lessons: Persistence, Resilience, and Cooperation

I was fortunate to have recently taken a long walk in Redwoods National Park. As I looked carefully at the towering redwoods, lush ferns, and soft mosses, I began to see in the forest ecology a metaphor for an entrepreneurial one; an ecosystem that exhibits behaviors that support entrepreneurial success. There had been a fire in this part of the forest. It’s damage could be seen everywhere, sometimes subtly appearing as shadow in the bark of a tree, and sometimes more obviously in a hollowed out stump (granted this “stump” could be twenty feet high and eight feet across).

persistent treeDespite the damage and the threat to their environment, the trees persist.

Resilient tree



Sometimes, their resilience is surprising as new trunk grows in a slightly different direction from what at its base appears to be dead wood.


cooperative tree


But even as a tree dies, it feeds the ecology of the forest providing a supportive home for smaller plants to thrive cooperatively.



Now imagine that this isn’t just an entrepreneurial forest ecology, but an ecology of arts organizations. What are those stalwart arts organizations in your community that persist despite the occasional crisis? Which have found a new direction when its original mission proved to be no longer tenable? And, when an arts organization is dying, can it find a way to shelter the growth of new, smaller organizations or individuals, perpetuating a healthy ecology for the future?



About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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