Beyond the Build


The Easiest Donation You’ll Ever Make: A Simple Gift of Space Can Preserve Natural Treasures

“To whom much is given, much is expected.”

That adage has stayed with me for many years. Our company is fortunate to have a nice corporate campus, and I feel that in order to be a good steward of the land, I should invite others to enjoy our place. In the last few months, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Fresh Water Land Trust and the U.S. Green Building Council have met using our conference area.

Our conference room is surrounded by a porch that hangs out over a small lake. There’s an island in the middle of the water where a single willow tree sits—the same one you see illustrated on our homepage. In the surrounding woods, wildlife abounds. The setting is tranquil and invites open conversation. Last week Stewart Perry was privileged to host the Cahaba River Society, bringing supporters of the river together in dialogue with community and business leaders.

Over the years, we’ve been active with the CRS as a company. The picturesque river has been the beneficiary of their conservation efforts over the last several decades. It meanders through the region, providing a source of drinking water, recreational opportunities and even a distinct species of lily only found here. While we’ve always been interested in preserving the River, our first real advocacy in the Society came when we built a grocery store project literally on its banks. We took great precautions to leave our surroundings unaffected and have been passionate about keeping the river clean and natural ever since. Hosting a CRS event seemed like a logical extension of our commitment.

This particular fall evening was crisp by Alabama standards, with a backdrop of trees changing color around the lake, a campfire and glass garage doors open from the kitchen to the patio. While the setting was perfect for talk of preserving nature, the presentation by CRS’s Betsy Thagard made the event truly special. She talked about water conversation and explained why water quality is so important to our lives and to our community. Beyond environmental benefits, there are huge economic payoffs that come with being good stewards of resources.

The time together not only reinforced relationships with donors, but helped open doors for new benefactors. As relationships with development professionals were strengthened, they were encouraged to excel in efforts to protect our water systems for future generations. I’m proud that our campus could be a catalyst for environmental preservation.

Click for more information on the Cahaba River Society, or check out this article in the July issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.