Walk Before You Can Swim, Again. An introduction to this category of blog posts.

There is no better way to understand the complex and subtle nature of what a startup nonprofit is going through than to say, as Kate Bush said best, we are, "...running up that hill..." Let's pretend for a moment that PaxMaris isn't a maritime- or marine-based organization. Opening any business, as back-of-the-cereal-box wisdom will tell you, is complex enough without trying to exist in the water. When the water is where you live, work and play, you have to negotiate each day working under much harsher rules.


But, PaxMaris is a maritime entity, and therefore must live and work in the water to bring our missions to life. We cannot help restore oyster populations without a boat. We cannot bring the joy and peace of the water (pax maris) to military families without a boat, and we certainly can't promote the Chesapeake Region's rich history and culture or help create economic opportunity in waterfront communities without a boat. We find ourselves at the end of the beginning, turning the page to find a new, but recognizable future.

***

Our development as a business entity has followed, thankfully, typical avenues and vectors of growth. First, there was a dream and a dreamer. Which came first? We don't know and its not important because next came struggle. Our dreamer, though raised in and along the Bay, was not allowed to think in terms of entrepreneurial behavior. His was a world of "I work for a company, therefore I am safe." But it wasn't safe for him. So then came years of gestation as the plight of multi-generational brainwashing slowly, very slowly, gave way to more clear goals and actions. Then came BETA-01, the business entry test article.


Our BETA experiment was called "Liberty Launch." We needed to understand if we, our dreamer included, were the right people to work and live in the water and to do business there. We needed to understand an industry we had only worked in as functionaries, but now as the ones in charge, the entrepreneurs. We started out in 2017 and immediately failed, though not through any fault of our own, save the ignorance that comes with blissful naivety. The many lessons of that time would fill a complete work of nonfiction so we won't digress here, but later on we just might.


By the summer of 2019, we were getting somewhere.


Next came two springs, two summers and three falls worth of data. By the fall of 2021, our heads and hearts were full and our resources were wiped out. We had to grow in order to survive. Luckily for us, we had created our own immense opportunity to evolve and pursue.

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So this is our big page turn, building a new vessel, the right vessel, which will propel us towards a very new, yet recognizable future, one we have crafted from our dreams, experiences and failures. We would never have come this way had we not stayed the course and listened to the inexorable, indefatigable and intractable voice of our own grit and will.


AND YET...


DOUBT asks, "How do we know we're the right people to live, work and do business in the water?"

WE answer, "We are still here, doing it."


DOUBT fears, "How will we solve all of our challenges, professional and personal?"

WE state, "By following our dreams."


DOUBT wonders, "How do we cope with the galactic uncertainty of continuing on, now as a completely new kind of "thing," a startup nonprofit?"

WE remind DOUBT, "Because "Liberty Launch" defied all the odds, of which there were many, and fulfilled its purpose."


Now we dream, we draw, we lift up what is in our hands and we do the job we gave ourselves. We never fit into anyone else's playbook so we had to create one for ourselves. We are designing a Chesapeake Bay deadrise to continue and spread the knowledge and practice of Chesapeake Bay history and culture, to add to the generational effort to "Save the Bay," to build the economic opportunity in waterfront communities and to rise to the challenges of our time by promoting democracy (sure wish we didn't need to) and supporting a strong national defense by supporting not just veterans and active duty service members, but their whole support network.


In this blog you will find an ongoing account of our progress. We will try not digress or wander into the weeds of how we got here and the trials we still face, but admittedly, that could be difficult.

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