General Project Information
Sustainable Northwest, over the past twenty six years, has been successful in managing natural resources in what they call the “radical middle” of the economy, environment, and community. The goal of our project is to connect Sustainable Northwest with students through a workshop —using the organization as an academic resource while creating two-way dialogue between different generations from different parts of Oregon. Specifically, we wish to connect the organization with we would seek to include older high school students, undergraduate students, and graduate students with an interest in natural resource management issues. Throughout the course of the workshop, we hope to have Sustainable Northwest share the methods in which they have exercised environmental engagement in the natural resource sector — going into detail about the intricacies of their projects.
Sustainable Northwest has proven themselves to be successful at facilitating environmental engagement in the “radical middle” of natural resource management —pioneering solutions for multi-party environmental issues ranging from wood supply to river restoration. Not only do they have experience dealing with the immediate stakeholders of their core natural resource projects (i.e. farmers, tribes, rural communities), but they have expanded their engagement to reach various industries and governmental actors. With this taken into account, we consider Sustainable Northwest an incredibly valuable academic resource for students looking to get into the field of natural resource management or environmental studies as a whole. We decided to center our project around an academic workshop. Here Sustainable Northwest will work with organizations outside of their current operations (specifically urban organizations) to deliver a workshop-style curriculum to students across upper high school to college. As Sustainable Northwest largely operates within rural communities, this project also aims to connect rural and urban communities via the sharing of environmental knowledge.
Reflecting back to the “What” of environmental engagement, we realize that the “post-truth” is relevant to the world we live in today. Thomas B. Edsall speaks on post-truth in the political arena —claiming that Democrats and Republicans “view the same reality through a different lens” (Edsall 2020). He explains that dissimilar perspectives on a shared reality lends itself to growing political polarization —in that engagement and progress is difficult when various groups interpret one truth in multiple ways. The political perspectives of the left and right exist in different realities. Of course, this idea of post-truths and multiple realities extends beyond the political arena, and into a plethora of environmental issues.
Because of challenges like conflicting perspectives, community natural resource management efforts with goals for biological conservation and socioeconomic development often produce deficient results (Ebbin et al. 2010). Sustainable Northwest, however, has been successful in facilitating environmental engagement between groups whose political and environmental perspectives may conflict. As seen —for example— in their work in the water management and river restoration project, Sustainable Northwest worked with 26 entities —addressing a range of perspectives in order to produce a successful outcome (dam removal). As we have learned in ENVS 295, these connections are critical as engagement across boundaries may lend to the co-production of valuable knowledge (Jasanoff 2004). Reflexively, these complex, real-world engagements are often left outside of the classroom. The skills, strategies, and projects needed to make Sustainable Northwest function are of interest to a wide range of students who are interested in pursuing a career in the environmental discipline. Our project aims to connect students with Sustainable Northwest in order to supplement students’ in-class curriculum with knowledge that is more focused on skill-based, real-world, and multi-perspective.
As of April 21, 2020
Being as our project aims to connect so many individuals and organizations, it is important for our group to pursue input from the people involved. The input regarding our project will largely revolve around the main organizations involved in the project —Sustainable Northwest, educational Institutions (specifically its students), and the other organizations in Portland. These various groups will have important input as to how the workshops will be set up.
To begin, it would be integral to receive feedback from Greg Block —the president of Sustainable Northwest. Specifically, we would like to inquire about what they feel is important to include in the workshop academically. This would help structure a curriculum that the workshop would follow: what skills they believe are important, which of their projects they think would display good examples. Additionally, as our project aims to facilitate discussion between both Sustainable Northwest and students, we would like to know what the organization would like to learn from students entering the field. Unfortunately, Greg has expressed that he and his team are tremendously busy with work regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and are unavailable to meet and discuss the project.
The second group we would like feedback from are students looking to get into environmental or natural resource professions. We may want to know what they, as students, want from a workshop like this. Specifically, we would like to learn what they are curious about in regard to how organizations like Sustainable Northwest operates. For example, we would love to know if students are curious about prerequisite skills that are required for employment, a specific natural resource project (water, wood, energy, etc.), or whatever else may be of interest. We would like to meet with Professor Jim Proctor about which methods would work best in deriving student input. We believe that for now, it would be best to conduct 5 minute interviews with our peers in ENVS 295.
Lastly, we believe it would be helpful to get input from a faculty member at Lewis and Clark College (outside of our course instructor, Jim Proctor). We think it would be beneficial to receive feedback from Professor Jessica Kleiss of the Environmental Studies department at Lewis and Clark. As someone who has worked with students and various organizations off-campus, we believe she may be able to help revise, tweak, restructure or polish the details of our project. More specifically, we are hoping to get feedback and advice regarding any organizations in Portland to help facilitate the workshop, which schools and programs we should look into participating and any other details or concerns that may arise from the conversation.