Seven Down, Many More to Go

By: John A. Lanier

RayDay meant something to this child. I can’t tell you with certainty what he did that day, but I know that it was good and wholesome. I also know that his experience brought him closer to nature.

I’ll just be direct and to the point this post - I’m going to talk about the seventh annual RayDay we had this past Sunday. Many of you reading already know what it is, but for anyone who doesn’t, RayDay is the Ray C. Anderson Foundation’s annual event. Each fall, we have thousands of people gather in a field at Serenbe to celebrate my grandfather’s legacy and the work of more than 60 organizations advancing environmentalism. We have fairground rides, food trucks, beer and wine, and plenty of activities geared towards kids. Our friends at The Ray even organized their second annual electric vehicle caravan to the event, with more than 110 EVs making the trip from Atlanta. Moreover, it’s free to our guests: RayDay is our Foundation’s gift to our environmental community.

In years past, I’ve written at a macro-level about how special of a day RayDay is. This time, I want to focus on the micro-level. Let’s get narrative!

I love RayDay, but every year it’s a challenge on one particular level - with so many people, I always fail to see and reconnect with everyone I want to. As the event grows, I just fail more and more. And selfishly, I want to experience RayDay with my young children, getting to see the wonder through their eyes when they take that first lick of a popsicle or feed a carrot to a camel. As a result, though I’m someone who savors deep conversations and personal connections, I find my RayDay conversations are always too short and shallower than I’d like.

That said, when reflecting back on this RayDay, I realized that even short conversations can be meaningful and important. Let me tell you about one of those.

Maybe an hour into RayDay, I catch the eye of my friend Frank. He takes a short walk my way, shakes my hand, we exchange pleasantries, and then he introduces me to his son. I crouch down to say hello, and I tell this young man, “I hope you have SO MUCH fun today.” He says he will, and they wander off after I thank them for joining us. That’s really all there was to it because I had to get to a media interview for the event.

About two hours later, as the event is winding down, Frank and his son see me again and come over to say goodbye. I crouch back down and ask the son, “Did you have fun?” With a big smile on his face, he answered, “I had SO MUCH fun!”

RayDay meant something to this child. I can’t tell you with certainty what he did that day, but I know that it was good and wholesome. I also know that his experience brought him closer to nature. I saw joy in his eyes, and that made me as happy as I could be.

RayDay is about moments like these. I could never measure RayDay’s success, because we can’t quantify an experience like this boy had. I don’t know who was inspired to compost at home or begin volunteering with one of our nonprofit exhibitors. I have no clue what ideas were sparked or what seeds were planted in people’s minds and hearts. And I don’t know what special conversations were had, whether long or short.

I am confident that all of these things happened though. And as a result, I know that this year’s RayDay was another resounding success!

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