Engagement can be defined as conversation toward action. Oregon Humanities’ Conversation Project focuses on the conversation aspect of engagement, bringing together community members to discuss issues of importance and of interest.
The first part of our proposed project introduces a new conversation topic: What does it mean to be connected to land? Ideally, this topic would spark dialogue surrounding ideas of why land should be protected and if the current ways of management are serving the participants and their concerns. The conversation would pose the question of how we determine what kinds of land to protect and why we protect land, whether it be for its cultural value, scenic appeal, economic value, or its intrinsic value. The goal of this aspect of our project is to bring a new conversation to the Oregon Humanities’ table, inviting community members to share their experiences and creating an atmosphere conducive to greater understanding of the similarities between our perceived differences.
We’re also proposing that the conversation take place on a virtual platform such as Zoom or Google Meet. Employing an online platform to expand the scope of participants would allow for a greater incorporation of people that were previously unable to participate. This would broaden the spectrum of perspectives included in conversation and allow for more effective engagement.
We developed a curiosity for the long-term impacts of conversations like these. To measure these impacts, we are proposing a series of surveys. After distributing surveys staggered by one day, one week, one month, three months, and six months, we would compare the survey results geographically with the goal of deepening our understanding of how people think differently about land preservation and management, relative on the region in which they live.
- One of the goals of our proposed project is to inspire further action and continued engagement, beyond the proposed conversation. Ideally, the surveys would communicate any future actions taken or planned by conversation participants.
- Our second goal addresses the action part of engagement. Our project intends to create lasting shifts in perspective with respect to land preservation and management.
- By implementing the use of a virtual platform for the conversation, our goal is to create a more diverse group of participants that is truly representative of the region in which the conversation is situated.
- Lastly, we hope that participants leave the conversation with changed and/or opened mindsets, a better understanding of the perspectives of others, and a sense of hope regarding land preservation as a common goal.
The goal of environmental engagement is to understand and in some cases even reconcile the different truths held by different people. The primary goal of our project is reflective of that: To broaden our ideas of what it means to be connected to land. Thinking about others’ opinions and perspective can be conducive to more concrete actions. We hope that, through a land-centered conversation and set of surveys, our project will result in changed attitudes, behaviors, and understandings for project participants, especially when engaging in conversation in the future.