Also see: Language and Communication | Selected Speeches | Recommendations
While the word is yet unspoken, you are master of it; when once it is spoken, it is master of you. — Arab proverb
"Our Audubon members are still talking about your presentation. Several people have told me that yours was the most influential and inspiring talk ever heard at an Audubon meeting." — Gary Gibson, President Audubon Society, Corvallis, OR
August 2, 1990
Dear Mr. Snelling: "I am writing let you know how much I appreciate the presentation by Chris Maser at our recent New Perspectives seminar, held in Silver Creek, Colorado. Chris was definitely the most interesting and dynamic speaker of our seminar. His perspectives helped all 160 participants see new horizons with respect to our forest ecosystems, their dynamics, and their linkage. Chris truly helped us better understand management perspectives associated with ground disturbing uses, such as timber harvesting.
"Again, please let Chris know of my appreciation, and I thank you and the Environmental Protection Agency for allowing us to share Chris's time." Respectfully, Jerry E. Schmidt, Forest Supervisor
"There are several aspects of Chris Maser's presentations that have impressed me: whether from a biological standpoint or the interrelations between human beings, the Earth, water, and atmosphere, the fact is we all live in a system that supports another system that supports another, etc. All in Nature is interrelated. From a spiritual viewpoint, there is a deep awareness of the value and "raison d'être" of all Earth's living species, despite the current, material disconnection of humans with Nature.
"What touched me most, however, and it continues each time I see Chris or read his books, is how he is so profoundly tied to all living beings, regardless of the species. Not only do his speeches and books reflect this but also his entire being, which is one of love, sharing, and respect for life. This, in turn, provides us with the will to follow his example and at the same time gives us the occasion to rethink the way we live our lives, including the notion of intergenerational relations. Finally, what Chris transmits to us is the inner force to want to return to the essential needs of life."
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
"With respect to the presentations given by Chris Maser on "sustainable communities" at the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coalition Sustainability Workshop, they were, for me at the very least, an emotional experience to hear, first hand, the concepts and philosophies that are so well articulated in Chris' books … directly from the author. It was an opportunity to reaffirm my own developing ideas and directions.
"However, what I received most from Chris' speeches is his absolute honesty and simple truth of the ideas and how they are infused within the speaker. I couldn't help but listen and learn. This is what separates Chris' materials from that of other "sustainable development" proponents. The simple, unadulterated universal truths that we must have the courage to accept and integrate into ourselves if we are to change our paradigms — and recognize true community and personal values. Despite all the negative materialistic events around us, Chris remains optimistic and inspires his listeners to change.
"There is no mystery to the concepts. We are all connected to one another and to the earth. We are its trustees while we are here. Chris speaks of the need to respect one another and the resources that we depend on. However, the real thrust of Chris' material relates to how we treat one another in a community. No matter at what stage we are in our lives or at what stage our communities are in, all the generations deserve respect and attention. I was particularly moved by his anecdotes considering the inclusion of youths in the development of a community vision.
"If not for exhaustive nature of public speaking, I could have listened for hours. "
Senior Ecosystem Biologist
Integrated Management Section
Science / Oceans Branch,Gulf Region
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
"Chris Maser is considered an expert in his field of study and is recognized for his ability to integrate science and social values in order to bring humanity closer to social-environmental sustainability. Chris's voice resonates through his courageous speaking and writing. As a leader in his professional community, Chris poses societal problems in ways that don't pander to popular opinion and simple slogans, but rather draw the mind down a complex path of systematic thinking. Chris . . . [provided] informative sessions, in the form of lecture and presentation, to Missouri State [University] faculty, staff, and students during his time on campus." (April 2009) You can listen to this presentation if you want to.
The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with. — Eleanor Holmes Norton, American lawyer
WHY PUBLIC SPEAKING IS IMPORTANT TO ME
Thirty years ago, I asked myself a question: How does one person influence the world for the better? As that question formed itself, the answer came from somewhere in the collective unconscious, where all human ideas have been archived throughout the long reach of time: "Those who have elevated humanity toward greater consciousness have excelled in the art of public speaking and/or writing." That was the day I began my quest to excel at both.
As far as speaking in public is concerned, I found it excruciating for the better part of two decades. I was terrified. I felt ignorant and foolish. I often bumbled my way through a speech with a mouth so dry it felt like the "dust bowl" of the 1930s must have felt to those who were in it. I sweated profusely, desperately wanted to go the rest room, and was absolutely positive everyone thought me an idiot. And if that was not enough, I took myself to the proverbial woodshed after every speech and proceeded to berate myself and second-guess everything I had said or thought I should have said, but didn't.
Nevertheless, I accepted every invitation to speak in public, each time trying to do it a little better than the time before, each time hoping I would overcome my fear in some small measure. The change was for a long time imperceptible to me, so immersed in the process of "training" had I become.
I never practiced a speech, however. If I did, I became so caught up in the preconceived nuances of my delivery that I forgot the heart of the message. I felt stilted, inauthentic, and ridiculous. To me, the whole purpose of delivering a speech is to impart an idea(s) that will in some way improve humanity's understanding of the cause and effect of our thoughts, decisions, and actions—both in the short and long term for the sake of the children in all generations.
Charlee was a fourth grader when I visited with her class.
Sharing ideas is important to me because ideas are free. As such, they are part of the global commons, the birthright of every human being—and so belong to everyone in their turn through all the generations. No one person can own an idea. No one person is the sole recipient of an idea. No one idea is complete unto itself. Every idea has traveled the galaxy of thought, beginning with the first idea in the first mind to perceive, and thus accept, the cosmic gift. Every idea, like a monetary coin of antiquity, has been passed from one person to another, and each person in their turn adds their bit of human history to the coinage of thought embodied in the idea before once again passing it into the ethers of time and human experience. An idea, therefore, can be borrowed, but never owned.
It is through writing and public speaking that I explore the nuances of an idea in the realm of caretaking an ancient concept and thereby adapting it to my time and place in history so that its gift is perpetuated in a positive way. This being the case, it is incumbent on me to speak in public with the wisdom, compassion, and humility worthy of the idea with which I am momentarily entrusted, before it once again takes wing into the Transcendent Consciousness from whence it came.
Now, after many years of practicing the art of public speaking, I am comfortable sharing an idea in front of an audience, regardless of its size. Now, finally, I know how to paint a picture with words and thereby convey an idea that may leave the world a kinder place for my having lived on this magnificent planet spinning miraculously in space.
November 12, 1991
This is a much-delayed thank you for an excellent and though-provoking presentation at our Forest Service Orientation in Milwaukee [Wisconsin]. Your delivery gave us what we needed to open up our session. As described by one participant, you presentation "was powerful stuff" and started our session on the right path.
Additional comments included, "pleased that Chris was chosen as the initial speaker for the session because his values set the tone" and "his philosophy on the balance of all natural systems is vital and essential to the change that is encompassing the organization as well as individuals as a whole."
Again, Chris, thanks for a job well done.
Human Resources Staff
SFI [Sanctuary Forest, Inc.] hosted two conferences, in 1996 and 1998, about old-growth forests for the upriver community featuring Chris Maser, a preeminent, much-published, old-growth ecologist.
Chris had asked me, 'What is the most important thing about saving old-growth forests?' His answer was: It's the water. Really, what you are doing here [in the Mattole water-catchment] is working with water. These forests collect water; they regenerate water; and they recycle water. So, I started thinking differently about it and placed water quality and water supply at the top of the list for forest protection. Chris Maser came two years in a row and wowed everyone with his stories about woody debris and amazing, complex relationships life forms needed to keep a forest alive. What Chris was talking about was the importance of downed wood in the forest. Without the presence of downed wood, you do not have a climax forest. He did this wonderful presentation. He proved that a downed tree has more life to lead than when it was alive. He showed how Douglas-fir seeds need this injection of flying squirrel poop. His message was understood, enjoyed, and brought new ways of looking at the forest around us.
Sanctuary Forest, Inc.
IF YOU WANT SOME TIPS ON SPEAKING IN PUBLIC, READ:
Chapter five in the book "Resolving Environmental Conflict: Towards Sustainable Community Development" Conflict Resolution
IF YOU THINK I CAN HELP YOUR GROUP, AGENCY, OR COMMUNITY, PLEASE CONTACT ME
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Photograph by and courtesy of James H. Versemann.