activists at protest
August 4, 2021

How a Website Designer Turns Passion into Activism

Wild Virginia website guru, David Flatley, has been a longtime volunteer with the organization, turning his passion for the environment into activism. From designing and managing our website, making it more accessible to others, to helping with other technology issues, Flatley is a treasured volunteer and a valuable member of our Wild Virginia community. Even when all our outings were cancelled during the pandemic, Flatley was able to contribute to our impact remotely. Volunteers like David are what allows Wild Virginia to have the impact it has. 

When asked why Wild Virginia’s mission is important to him, Flatley reflected on how he started volunteering. 

“Years ago, I had volunteered at a hospital helping patients down to surgery, which was awesome. But when I moved closer to Charlottesville, someone told me I should volunteer at something I’m completely passionate about,” Flatley said. 

Flatley believes that if the cause you’re volunteering for is something that is personal to you, it starts to feel more like leisure rather than work. He does exactly this. 

“I love nature and conservation, and it’s super important to me to help maintain wild lands and push back on the corporations and government before they consume every acre,” Flatley emphasized.

Throughout his time with Wild Virginia, Flatley has done a lot with the organization, participating in outings, attending communication meetings, and following our initiatives. His favorite part of volunteering is being able to celebrate our big wins. 

“Even though we were all locked down through the pandemic, it was awesome when the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was cancelled. [It was great] knowing that the small part each of us played helped bring that about,” he said. 

When asked if he had any favorite memories, Flatley responded with visiting the vernal pools in the Blue Ridge Mountains to look for salamanders. 

“Growing up partially in northeast New Jersey, I had never seen that kind of natural beauty in person. Crystal clear water and little newts swimming around all over the place under ice was amazing. [It] made me even more passionate about protecting these areas for future generations to enjoy,” Flatley recalled. 

The joy that comes from these activities is one reason volunteering is important. Flatley believes that anyone who has the time and ability to volunteer should engage in making the world a better place.

“All of us together with our combined work make waves of differences towards a goal,” Flatley said. 

When the cause is something you are passionate about, this kind of work becomes fun, as Flatley himself has experienced. 

When asked why others should get involved with Wild Virginia, Flatley emphasized, “If you’re passionate about protecting our wild lands here in Virginia, Wild Virginia is the place to be! Everyone I’ve met so far is super friendly and excited to be out in nature knowing we’re helping to keep it pristine. Wild Virginia is [also] well connected with other organizations with the same or similar goals in protecting nature and our own backyards here in Virginia.” 

Outside of Wild Virginia, Flatley loves to play guitar, draw, swim in the lake, hike, cook, and landscape, and his favorite natural creature is the newt!

Written by Jessica Wen

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