Sustainable Northwest facilitates environmental engagement in the “radical middle” of natural resource management —pioneering solutions that function for the well-being of a number of resources and, more importantly, a number of parties. More specifically, their core projects address water, forests, energy, and rangelands throughout various communities in the Pacific Northwest. Being that Sustainable Northwest’s mission is to create community-base solutions that call on collaboration, communication, and commitment —the premise of engagement in our class aligns itself well to Sustainable Northwest’s values. Annually, Lewis and Clark College’s Environmental Studies Department puts on a Symposium (ENVX) that has addressed a range of concerns among the discipline —from genetic modification to neighborhood planning— and invites experts in the field to speak on their experiences. The symposia have proven to be rather successful and academically inspiring —with its range of speakers and concepts. Being as Sustainable Northwest, has found success in dealing with environmental conflicts across multiple parties, the organization would be able to provide a lot of insight into how conflict management, professional engagement, and operating in the “radical middle” looks in real world projects. Namely, my project proposal would call for A Sustainable Northwest Academic Symposium where organization members and stakeholders of the successful dam removal, river restoration project speak on the process of the project —and how engagement stimulated the project.
Our work to forge solutions for people and natural systems places Sustainable Northwest at the radical middle of community, economy, and ecology.”– Sustainable Northwest
As an organization, Sustainable Northwest is an incredibly valuable academic resource for students looking to get into the field of natural resource management or environmental studies as a whole. Students wish to learn more about organizations like these as they hope to one day get involved. An event like a symposium would not only offer more information about the contexts to which your organization operates, but could act as a networking tool for students and other organizations. I am proposing that Sustainable Northwest partners up with various schools and environmental organizations to put on an academic symposium that demonstrates how collaboration, communication, and commitment can be used as a tool to solve complex, multi-level, multi-party conflicts such as water allocation and river restoration. The symposium could be held in multiple parts. One addressing the ecological concern of the river at the time through multiple perspectives. Following that informative session could be a simulation of the negotiations and debate that led to progress in the project. Of course, the contents of the symposium need not be confined to the river restoration project and other projects including energy and land allocation are also of interest.
As addressed in a video put out by Sustainable Northwest, operating in the radical middle calls for engagement across a number of stakeholders. Specifically in their case, Sustainable Northwest Works with landowners, rural farmers, local communities, and tribes to facilitate their natural resources. In the context of the river restoration project, the organization cited that there were 26 entities involved in the project. Clearly, each of the stakeholders had their own interests, plans, and preferences. Coming from the perspective of a student, hearing how Sustainable Northwests facilitated discourse between these 26 entities would be extremely interesting and academically fruitful. In addition, other organizations that are part of the symposium could follow a similar structure in delivering what their organizations do.
As briefly addressed earlier, the symposium could be multiple parts consisting of the context of the river restoration project (or other projects) followed by a simulation or breakdown of the progress of conversations, collaboration, compromise and further engagement it took for the project to gain traction with so many actors and so many perspectives involved. The symposium can be facilitated by interested college campuses in the Pacific Northwest and interested organizations that wish to get involved.