Libby Norris built bridges.
While her day job was as a Watershed Restoration Scientist, one wonders if she knew she was actually a top-notch Social Scientist as well.
Would she have said that a core element of our lives is “social capital”- the value of our social networks- who you know, how you are connected, and what happens as a result of these networks? That success is when members do for each other without expectation of anything in return? That there are those who bond with people with similar interests and lives, while others expand and build bonds to bridge (seemingly) conflicting interests? Did she know that the latter takes far more effort and courage?
If she did, she didn’t shrink from the challenge. Libby built bridges.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF.org) posted “Quite simply, thanks to Libby’s good work, today there are more healthy rivers and streams, more fish, crabs, and oysters, and more clean water for all of us across Virginia.” Not the easiest bridges to build – from cattle farmers to watersheds. “Libby worked tirelessly with farmers across the Commonwealth. She also got to know Bay watermen on remote Tangier Island, and hosted many farmer trips to Tangier as well as brought watermen to the Valley to meet farmers. She instinctively recognized that these two groups had more in common than they did differences and sought to build shared understanding.”
The young athletes around Williamsburg will tell you she helped them bridge frustration and disappointment by illuminating that “it’s all a learning experience.” Fellow parents of athletes will share that she helped them bridge a knowledge gap of the sport, as well as how to replace nervous energy with pure enthusiasm.
Her peers will tell you she “got out of the truck.” She didn’t ponder a situation for too long; she dealt with it head on. She got out of the truck and got it done. She bridged thought to action.
Her friends and neighbors will tell you she just “was” – a reliable, genuine friend. Her encouragement helped many bridge self-doubt to the fulfillment of an ambition. Earning a Masters degree, becoming a coach, being more confident as a mom, and becoming an Outdoors Woman, to name a few. Her (perhaps EMT inspired) response time to a friend in need defied logic.
Her ready smile reminded us it was possible all along – to be a great parent, spouse, child, coach, athlete, citizen, scientist, coworker, friend, human being. Lucky for us we can see special versions of that smile in her two greatest accomplishments, her daughters. She bridged the next generation, and her laughter-ready husband will sustain the joy.
Here’s what the social scientists say at bettertogether.org, “We build social capital by creating new ties and strengthening old ones. These connections may increase individual well-being and opportunity by linking people more strongly to their local community and to larger societal resources. Or they may build community by strengthening bonds that link community members or by bridging divisions between them. The new ties may be formal, like a club, association, or civic institution, or informal, like a group of friends talking or colleagues collaborating. There is no limit to the number of specific pathways to social capital creation. How to build social capital in each community, family, block, or neighborhood is best left to community-based groups.”
Many felt it was “best left” to Libby with her “can do” approach. Now, it’s left to us.
Libby Norris planted the seeds of optimism and confidence within us. Because of her legacy, Libby continues to grow love.
“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with the simplicity and sincerity of God, [and] not by human wisdom but by the grace of God”. (2Cor 1,12).