In the early 1990s, heated debate and strict division in the natural resource management sector took place. “Lines were drawn in the dirt, lawsuits were filed, and relationships between industry, environmentalist, and government were toxic. The battle was commonly portrayed as ‘Jobs vs. The Environment.’” In 1994, when the Sustainable Northwest was founded, it aimed to address this conflict through community-based collaboration in Wallowa County. From the day they were founded up until today, Sustainable Northwest’s vision has always been to bring different groups together to solve problems at the intersection of natural resources, the economy, and the community.
Sustainable Northwest envisions a “prosperous Northwest with sustainably produced goods and services, healthy natural systems, and strong communities.” They work to create solutions to problems that affect both people and natural systems, which places the organization in what they call the “radical middle” of community, economy, and ecology. Sustainable Northwest pays quite a bit of attention to local interests, trying to produce community-driven solutions in the face of change and conflict.
“Sustainable Northwest brings people, ideas, and innovation together so nature, local economies, and rural communities can thrive.” – Sustainable Northwest’s Mission Statement
Sustainable Northwest operates under the contexts of natural resource management, the economy, and multi-party engagement. In regards to natural resources, the organization facilitates a number of programs: forests, energy, water, and rangelands. All of these programs are tied together via the economy and the communities that are affected. Namely, Sustainable Northwest works with rural communities, local tribes, farmers, and ranchers in order to create change in the “radical middle” of the economy, environment, and community. This is achieved by forging together a wide spectrum of community interests, ideas, and innovations.
This source, although not directly written or published by Sustainable Northwest, refers to the issues they prioritize, as well as the realities they confront. The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) is the Forest Service’s go-to program for large-scale, community-driven collaboration to increase the pace and scale of restoration, promote healthy forests, and protect the lives and well-being of communities and landowners. The program funds large-scale restoration projects, with the goal of reducing the risk of large scale wildfires, supporting jobs in rural communities, producing timber, and enhancing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities across the nation. According to CFLRP, they are the only Forest Service program that prioritizes comprehensive restoration for diverse economic, social, and environmental outcomes. The program has several unique elements that make it effective in addressing resource concerns: dedicated long term funding, a requirement to collaborate, and a matching funds requirement.
Kauffman, Marcus. 2001. An Analysis of Forest Service and BLM Contracting and Contractor Capacity in Lake County, Oregon.
This source is a report done by Sustainable Northwest in 2001 which analyzes the ecosystem management industry in Lake County and Bly, Oregon and then offers recommendations on how it can be improved. The report aims to produce information that can help a community that has suffered as a result of the decline of the timber industry through assisting the development of the local contracting sector. This report is a useful example of the work that Sustainable Northwest does, and the different ways in which they work to assist local communities.
Keough, Heather L., and Dale J. Blahna. 2006. "Achieving Integrative, Collaborative Ecosystem Management." Conservation Biology 20, no. 5: 1373-82. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00445.x.
This source is an article that cites sustainable northwest in their desires to integrate social and ecological factors into collaborative management. This report, unlike others that have identified certain principles as being important for successfully integrating social and ecological factors in collaborative management, is different in that it actually illustrates how these principles are used and why they are effective. Throughout the report, the authors identified eight factors important for integrative, collaborative ecosystem management - integrated and balanced goals, inclusive public involvement, stakeholder influence, consensus group approach, collaborative stewardship, monitoring and adaptive management, multidisciplinary data, and economic incentives. Through an examination of four instances of successful ecosystem management, they try to illustrate that balancing social and ecosystem sustainability goals is possible.
Pilgeram, Ryanne. 2011. "The Only Thing That Isn't Sustainable...Is the Farmer: Social Sustainability and the Politics of Class among Pacific Northwest Farmers Engaged in Sustainable Farming." Rural Sociology 76, no. 3: 375-93. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1549-0831.2011.00051.x.
This source offers a critique of sustainable agriculture practices (of which Sustainable Northwest seems to advocate of). This article analyzes the complex ways that class privileges and labor practices impact the social sustainability of sustainable agriculture. The authors argue that the concept of sustainable agriculture is a classed system that restricts access to sustainable farming as an occupation, while at the same time exploiting the labor of the farmer in order to regulate prices. Using an ethnographic approach, the research in the report explores the negotiations between farmers' social ideals and the actual practice of sustainable agriculture in a capitalist system. This seems like a contradictory approach to some of the values of Sustainable Northwest, and it may provide us with a unique opportunity to ask the organization about this disconnect.
RVCC, and Sustainable Northwest. 2013. A Community-based Approach to Federal Forest Management: RVCC's Vision and Essential Goals.
This source is a policy paper that Sustainable Northwest produced with RVCC, or Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, titled “A Community-based Approach to Federal Forest Management: RVCC’s Vision and Essential Goals.” The Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition believes that effective and durable policy solutions for national forest management must be based on nine essential goals: restore forest health and promote ecological resiliency, utilize collaborative processes, increase local business and workforce capacity, create high quality business and employment opportunities by utilizing forest products derived from restoration and ecologically beneficial forestry activities to supply existing and new infrastructure that is appropriately scaled to meet ecological need of the land and economic needs rural communities, generate revenue for counties not by incentivizing ecological resiliency and development of ecosystem services, engage communities directly and build local community capacity, utilizing local knowledge, and working in coordination with community-based organizations, ensure clear and robust monitoring and adaptive management, maintain federal environmental and labor protections, and improve planning, contracting and implementation efficiencies. These nine goals all seem to hit very close to home for Sustainable Northwest.
Sustainable Northwest and Subsidiary. 2017. Consolidated Financial Statements and Other Financial Information.
This source is a summary of the financial information of Sustainable Northwest and their expenses from projects, employee wages and benefits, workshops, and more. It also shows their assets and liabilities. This financial information is an important part of our partnership with the organization as we look into Effective Altruism and its role in Sustainable Northwest and what they do. It helps us get an idea of the role of money in how these organizations can find success in their goals.