If anyone keeps track of such things, Rappahannock County must surely take top prize, on a per-capita basis, for the number of its homegrown nonprofits. This is testimony to an active citizenry motivated and energized by good causes.
One of the very first of these nonprofits was the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP), celebrating its 40th anniversary this fall. Its mission remains as true today as when its original constitution was adopted, in the words of Phil Irwin, one of RLEP’s founders:
“To provide a continuing coordinating structure for the preservation and/or wise use and appreciation of Rappahannock County’s natural and historic resources . . . by cooperative action for the cultural, scientific, educational, physical, mental, spiritual and economic well-being of our citizens and visitors.”
In the words of current and outgoing RLEP President Monica Worth, “One of the most interesting — and challenging — things about RLEP is that, while it has spawned focused issue groups like RappFLOW and RCCA . . . RLEP itself is charged with covering the wide and vast territory remaining — from individual special-exception applications that raise concerns about planning precedent to major incursions on private land like Dominon’s — plus public and youth education about conservation, alternative energy, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and a host of other proactive efforts. It’s a big job and our local volunteers have done it for 40 years!”
Those volunteers have helped, as Phil Irwin put it, “break down the ethic of apathy. For it is apathy, indifference and the fatalistic philosophy of many individual citizens that poses the greatest of all threats to the survival of America.”