A Look Back…
We are sad to see him go, but we are thrilled that Nate Broadus, Crew Leader extraordinaire, will be following his passion and joining Partner4Work as their Youth Projects Coordinator. We will miss you Nate, and are grateful that you shared your talents with us and are using Landforce as a launch pad to do great things for the people of Pittsburgh. And if you didn’t know, in his “spare” time, Nate is a comic book author. You can check out his work at www.198Six.com
I joined the Landforce team as their newest crew leader in late March 2016, after a long bout of layoffs and unemployment. I had reentered the civilian world 4 years prior, after serving as a US Marine, and had really struggled to maintain full-time employment. In my attempts to persist, and change my circumstances, I was fortunate to build up a network of people who really care about, and see potential in me. I was forwarded the Landforce Crew Leader job description, and its contents could have been hieroglyphics to me. I really didn’t know anything about stormwater management, or plant identification, and I damn sure didn’t know the first thing about trail building. My response to questions about my experience was the one you would expect from any young job seeker: “Yup, I can do it”, and it was probably the best little white lie of my life.
Of course, Thomas, Ilyssa and Shawn knew my confidence was feigned, and it showed the first time I held a tool in my hand, reverberating the same way the pulaski did when I struck a log at a bad angle. If I was going to learn this, this was going to take patience. Wait, if I was going to learn this in 2 months well enough to teach it, I need to hurry up! Shawn Taylor and Thomas Guentner put so many of their gallons of sweat into training me, and teaching me the principles both of our organization, and of the green infrastructure projects which we would be undertaking. Shawn spent so many hours of his day demonstrating, and re-demonstrating, watching me fail, and starting all over again until I finally got it. Watching him be such a great teacher, and an incredible mentor, despite everything that the world has thrown at him, has had a profound impact on me as a professional, and as a man.
Hard work culture is a core principle of Landforce, and it becomes tangible when you see a team of two women and three men clear a football sized forest of Japanese knotweed, and lay several thousand pounds of gravel in the blazing sun; and get the job done well, and well before the deadline. Watching these men and women pour themselves into something they’ve never been exposed to, and that will probably work them harder than anything they’ve ever done in their life, for a chance at true redemption has been a powerful reminder of exactly what I need to be doing with my energy. Furthermore, I have to give all the thanks in the world for the education, and networking I’ve received. I came here an absolute novice, and in my time, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the Green Infrastructure Network, and I was one of the first people in the country to be certified under the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program. My eyes were opened to an entirely new set of skills and disciplines, ones that I’ll look to take with me, and push through educational and community programming.
I’m proud to be able to take pieces of Landforce with me. I will be moving on to Partner4Work as their Youth Projects Coordinator, and I’m not sure that would have been possible without important workforce development insights, which I received from Tiffany Mrotek and Ilyssa Manspeizer. I’ll take the stories of our crew members, some amazing people who have been through the worst things, and will break their backs to right the ship. But the foremost takeaway, something I’d like to make abundantly clear to all Landforce crew, staff, board members and sister organizations, is that we are still partners. The name on my business card has changed, but we are all part of a mission that has to be bigger than individual efforts for the sake of providing a truly transformative product to the communities that need it most.
Now let’s get back to work!