“As for me, I'm thankful for all of you. Without you, Beautify CNMI would never have made it out of the starting gates. Look at what we've accomplish in 6 short months: We planted over 1700 trees; we recycled over 260,000 lbs of recylable material; we've had almost weekly cleanups of beaches and roads, our biggest cleanup on 10/20 attracting over 3,380 volunteers; we've signed an MOA with Bali Steel to remove junk cars and goods at no cost to the government; we've cleaned up and restored tourist areas, both historical and natural; on top of that, we've done this by including segments of our community that don't always get to "hang out" together. I'm hopeful that we can continue to draw in more partners and as Cinta says, "continue to infect people with the Beauty Virus." Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!”While I’m not ebullient as I was when I was 28, I have plenty to be thankful for this year.
I’ve got a great girl in my life. We don’t have kids, but we have two goofy looking dogs. Oreo and Snow White are kind of like kids though; they cost a lot of money, eat, poop, wake us up at night, and we occasionally have to take them to see Lola Emie (Eden’s Mom).
For most of my life the only relatives within 1500 miles of my front door were Alex and Mom. Thelma, Anna, Liz, and Ike, getting to know you and your families has been the best part of returning to Saipan.
I attained what might be the accomplishment of my lifetime when the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was created earlier this year. The monument is far from perfect, but like everything, is a work in progress. I like to think that my great grandkids will point to me as the environmentalist that led to its creation, and if you are reading this, yours probably will do the same for you.
I was also able to visit all the northern islands of the Marianas this year, fulfilling a lifelong dream to not only visit Pagan, but also sail around Uracas and dive the Maug lagoon.
And right before I went on that trip I made the decision, at the tender age of 30, to run for Mayor of Saipan. I did not win, but garnered the support of 1612 voters and came in a respectable third out of nine. I am thankful for all those who voted for me, all those who volunteered for me, and to all those who helped me raise nearly $20,000 for my campaign.
And to get back to the topic of family, how lucky am I to have a Mom who would travel 6000 miles to help me in my bid to become the first Irish mayor in Micronesia?
And after four years, Beautify CNMI continues to chug along. We organized another island wide cleanup this year. With over 4000 volunteers, it was by far the biggest, most successful event we ever held. We also put on a Boonie Dog show for the third year in a row, planted more trees in our villages, reactivated the anti-graffiti brigade, planted more trees at Laulau, marched in the 4th of July parade, participated in International Coastal Cleanup Day for the first time, and next week we’ll announce a new slogan: 15 minutes can Beautify CNMI! And we did all this while maintaining nearly weekly cleanups of our streets and beaches.
And after four years back on Saipan, after winning national and regional awards for the work we’ve done together, after joint resolutions from the Legislature telling us to go to hell, after internal and external squabbles, after building coalitions for and against, after the re-election of the worst governor in Commonwealth history, after a shooting that has shattered the lives of many and that is sure to ruin any remnants of the tourism economy we once had, after countless beers, countless barbeques, and not nearly enough exercise, not much has changed. The thing I am most thankful for is you.
May the Force be with you and your family and may the distance to the light at the tunnel be counted in months rather than years.