Much of Alix Hopkins’ career as an environmentalist specializing in communications and community conservation has been influenced by her work with QLF. Likewise, many of QLF’s international conservation exchange programs, and, in particular, the Middle East Conservation Exchange Program – have been influenced by Alix. She is invaluable to the QLF community of alumni and friends.
Community service, Labrador, 1972
Central Europe professional exchange, Czech Republic, 2000
QLF Alumni Congress, Hungary, 2006
Middle East exchange program, 2007–2010
Middle East program regional meeting, Oman, 2012
Council, Quebec-Labrador Foundation
Alix first joined QLF in 1972 as a summer intern working in community service in L’Anse au Clair, Labrador (in the northern reaches of Canada), for two months. Alix describes being dropped off in a remote, rural community, where she received only the most basic instruction and advice to be resourceful. As with many internships, the experience as a “Come From Away” requires humility, and a deep respect for culture, community, and conservation. “The internship was pivotal and clearly changed the direction of my life’s work. People responded to our collaborative approach and to our respect for the landscape and the culture of the place.” In retrospect, the Internship and other QLF experiences, have been formative in her life and career, pushing her to explore unfamiliar terrain and reach new heights.
In recent years, Alix has worked in a variety of conservation roles. In the early 1990s, she was the first full-time director of an urban land trust in Maine called Portland Trails – her first foray into urban conservation. Ultimately, she discovered that trails bring together a variety of people, including city government officials; environmental, social and arts nonprofit organizations; schools; and other land trusts. This made Portland Trails, a community conservation project. There, Alix learned her métier as a collaborative leader. In 2005, Alix published her first book, Groundswell: Stories of Saving Places, Finding Community, a collection of stories about conservation projects from around the United States that aims to inspire and nurture seeds of community across the country.
Alix’s work as an environmentalist has transitioned into more of an advising and consulting role. Additionally, she is a board member for many conservation organizations. She has worked in these capacities with, for example, the Biddeford RiverWalk Coalition, Forest Society of Maine, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and Alix serves on the QLF Council, an Advisory Board. In addition, she continues to write and work with communities to raise public and political awareness of local projects and issues.
Years after her first QLF experience, in 2000 Alix participated in a QLF professional exchange to the Czech Republic. There, she realized that conservation work was global, and this encouraged her to apply her conservation skills in a local context worldwide. The motivation to do conservation work overseas was reinforced again at QLF’s 2006 Alumni Congress. Alix describes her participation in the Congress as exceedingly memorable, as it allowed her the opportunity to unite with 200 “like spirits” from all over the world, and engage in a regular stream of fascinating conversations.
From 2007 to 2010, Alix worked as the Facilitator for QLF’s Middle Eastern exchange program. She considers her work on the Middle Eastern exchange program to be among, “the most expansive and extraordinary experiences” of her life. She writes, “Nothing has moved me as have these two exchanges in the Middle East. I am not yet sure how, but I know I have changed again. And I am searching for ways to translate this knowledge meaningfully. The stories we heard are universal. The challenges we encountered transcend national and international boundaries. And in the end, the more of us out there, the more we can convince others to find ways of working together.”
Inspired by these Fellowships, Alix is writing a book of stories about Middle East conservation leaders committed to consensus building, community collaboration, and cross-border conservation. Alix also highlights stories of cooperation between Arab, Jewish and Christian peoples towards a common purpose. She has visited the Middle East numerous times, traveling to Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Oman, Jordan, and the West Bank for interviews and research. “The people and their projects have become quiet but powerful peace-building tools. And you would never have imagined, with all of the conflicts that people face in the region, that they would have the time or the inclination to undertake these meaningful projects.”
Regularly throughout her career, QLF has appeared at just the right time to offer Alix support and encouragement. It has had a great influence on her professional and personal evolution. Her first QLF internship provided the framework for all of her future work, introducing her to conservation and community work – truly a formative experience. Over time, Alix became passionate about community-based conservation as she came to see how these projects benefit rural and urban communities, and make a difference in our lives. Alix describes this work as a “win-win.”
Reflecting on her career, Alix explains, “I have never had a ‘vision for my career.’ It has simply evolved.” Alix seized opportunities as they arose, and said ‘yes’ to daunting work if the work seemed compelling or exciting. She describes her career path as more holistic than calculated. The ability to jump headfirst into new work was prompted, in part, by her internship with QLF in the summer of 1972.
Alix recalls how, by trying new things and working in partnership with inspiring people and organizations, “I really found my voice. And I found my life’s work and my heart’s work.” All of the stories and moments from her career have contributed to how she has grown. Looking forward to the next phase of her life, Alix maintains the unbound attitude that has served her so well up to this point, declaring, “I have no idea where I am going from here!”