Finding hope in an unlikely Wikipedia entry

Finding hope in an unlikely Wikipedia entry

When I heard about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, I scoured the internet to find out what I could. And then I saw a comment on a news story: “These kids are pretty amazing, and so is the woman their school is named after.”

You see, many of the reports referred to “Stoneman Douglas” rather than “Marjory Stoneman Douglas”. It takes a little longer to say, and maybe news anchors assumed that the full name of the high school didn’t matter.

But names contain stories, and Marjory’s story spoke to me. She was not a native Floridian; in fact, she was born right here in Minneapolis. Life challenged Marjory, and she challenged it right back. Her mother suffered from mental illness, and her father was an unsuccessful entrepreneur. Marjory moved to Miami when it was barely more than a swamp to start her career in journalism. Instead of being an instant success, she was mocked by a rival newspaper editor because she was an outsider. In response, her father told her to check her facts better. So she did. She did a lot of other things too, like joining the Navy and the Red Cross. She also changed the landscape of wilderness preservation with her tireless advocacy of the Florida Everglades. Marjory lived until the age of 108, working for Everglades conservation nearly until the day that she passed away. And although she’s now seen as a conservation hero, she received plenty of criticism and name-calling from angry corporations and organizations that opposed her work.

At Rêve Academy, we have a saying: “Failure by design.” It means that failure is part of the growth process. We don’t hide it, or hide from it. The same courage that allows our interns to embrace failure by design is what I see in Marjory’s story. And I’m so proud to see the same courage from Marjory Stoneman Douglas students as they advocate for major change in our political system and societal values. Let’s follow their example, and maybe someday we’ll be described the same way that Marjory was: “She was outspoken, she was direct, and she had the energy and belief to make the world a better place.”

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