Sustainable Northwest is an organization that does a great deal of facilitation when it comes to natural resource management in the Pacific Northwest. With programs that work with water, forests, energy, and rangelands, the organization works on a multitude of projects that address problems and solutions around the Northwest. Using what we have learned so far in ENVS 295, our next step in our class is to brainstorm a possible engagement project with our chosen organization that addresses the who, what, and how of environmental engagement. For my idea for the project, I propose using the facilitation methods of Sustainable Northwest to have a discussion on education and knowledge when it comes to natural resource management with teenagers and young adults across Oregon.
Sustainable Northwest has made excellent progress when it comes to the facilitation of conversations and projects that work to find solutions in natural resource management. Examples of this include their efforts in building a clean energy economy, reviving and strengthening rangelands, providing enough water for both wildlife and people, and managing forests in a way that can help sustain both the timber community and the restoration of forests themselves. However, it is also important to know why this facilitation matters. Because of this, I propose doing a project that works to provide education around natural resource management. Instead of focusing specifically on water, energy, rangelands, and forests, all aspects are focused on by providing education on each topic.
In my group’s previous post that acknowledged the who of Sustainable Northwest, we noticed how youth tended to be commonly excluded from the conversations around natural resource management. I believe it’s important for young people to gain knowledge about how natural resources are managed and how these decisions are made, as soon they may be having to make those decisions as well. I would propose to include college students that come from both Oregon and out of state, college students of both Portland colleges and colleges outside of Portland, high school students from urban and rural areas, as well as young adults that are not students from both urban and rural areas in Portland. I believe this selection would offer a range of views and previous knowledge that can make the discussion more engaging.
Lastly, I’d like the how of the project to be inspired by the facilitation and “radical-middle” approach of Sustainable Northwest. Imitating conversations between different stakeholders through a roleplay method our class has done multiple times has shown to help both educate us on not only our side but also the sides of others. The young people participating will be given the role of a type of stakeholder—such as a logger, rancher, or conservationist— which will also lead them to decide on which natural resources they have a stake in. Oftentimes stakeholders can participate in multiple discussions because they have stakes in multiple resources. Additionally, some participants will be given a facilitator role, where they are tasked with a role similar to Sustainable Northwest and must work on being more of a bridge-builder. There will then be four discussions surrounding each of the natural resources Sustainable Northwest focuses on, split into two 15 minute sections. For the first section, the stakeholders will discuss their wishes on how their resource is managed without the help of any facilitators. For the second half, the facilitators will come in and attempt to help the stakeholders reach a consensus.
I believe this project can help give young people to learn about both the importance of natural resource management and facilitation through a process that lets them be involved in the difficult decision making that it comes with. Understanding the work that Sustainable Northwest does through their methods of facilitation can help young people across Oregon realize how their work affects them and why it matters to the community and state as a whole.