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Diano Circo — Impacting the World on His Own Terms
In 1999 I started on the bus as a Midwestern kid proud of his blue-collar roots, passionate about the environment, and without a clue how to harness my interests onto a constructive path. I had graduated from the University of Nebraska a year prior and chose to defer to travel with a close friend for a year across the western United States, Australia, and New Zealand. The bus became a natural extension of my traveling that refocused me on how I could impact the world on my own terms.
After a short stint doing forest advocacy work in southeast Ohio after graduating, I moved to Maine and spent seven years doing outreach, policy and lobbying work for the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). For the last seven years I’ve been a Project Manager for the Trust for Public Land focused on acquiring new conservation lands. I get to work with communities and state agencies to protect some of Maine’s most iconic landscapes. I’ve worked on everything from one-acre additions to a National Wildlife Refuge, to the creation of Maine’s newest Public Reserve, an 8,000-acre property essential to wild native brook trout.
I don’t have to look far to see the impact the bus has had on my life. My partner, Kate Tremblay, is also a bus alumni which makes our two kids Nolan (7) and Wren (2) second generation bus. But even beyond that, it’s been the skills I learned on the bus that have helped shape some of my proudest moments.
During my tenure at NRCM Plum Creek Timber Company announced the largest subdivision proposal in the history of the state. NRCM became the lead organization fighting the development and I spent five years organizing and speaking out against the proposal, which became one of the most contentious public issues in Maine during that period. There were tough days where the debate could turn viciously personal, but I always remembered the lessons I learned on the bus. Especially I remembered the people I met in Alberta and Sonora, Mexico who seemed to fight against overwhelming odds yet always had a smile on their face and were able to treat their opponents with respect. At that time in my life I was amazed by that, and sometimes frustrated by it. In the Plum Creek fight I tried to emulate it.
After a long public campaign, and many positive changes to the plan because of the efforts of advocates, Plum Creek was granted the rezoning it needed and I moved on to The Trust for Public Land. But that wasn’t the end of the story. It took a few more years, but in a testament to what I learned in Alberta and Sonora, the largest conservation project I’ve been able to complete was recently finished with Plum Creek Timber. The same people with whom I debated on stage became my partners in creating an 8,000-acre Public Reserve. It wasn’t always easy, but by the end my former adversaries had become strong allies and we made something important happen that hopefully will stand the test of time.
Diano was a graduate student on the bus from 1999-2001.