Thursday, May 27, 2010

Watershed U - final session

The final evening of Watershed U provided an opportunity to wrap things up and provide some insight into the future. The agenda included presentations from Brock Dolman, who was also in Ojai on Wednesday evening, Sabrina Drill who coordinated the program, Doug Vu with the TPL river parkway plan, and myself. An interesting Q&A session provided an opportunity for participants to ask questions and make suggestions.

I spoke about the need for 'ecosystem-based management' to provide a holistic framework for addressing our coastal (and watershed) crisis. The 'Ventura ecosystem' project is part of current West Coast EBM efforts to generate case studies leading to real on-the-ground solutions.

Although the past 5 weeks of Watershed U provided lots of technical information about the physical parameters of our watershed, I wanted to make the case that the social issues are the real key to success (or failure) in reaching a sustainable management paradigm.

Plagiarizing from other great presentations, I used a few slides to illustrate the disjointed system of governance that we currently operate under, and the need for coordinated regional (watershed-based) governance.

I also described the challenge of conflicting world views and the concept of social process mapping.

Unfortunately, due to a series of technical difficulties, the 'crux' of my presentation was missing. I intended to use the following slides to describe the process of creating a shared vision within the full range of diverse stakeholders. I believe it is critical to first reach a common understanding of the problem(s), then develop a shared vision for the desired outcome.

Then, most importantly, solutions should be defined; actions that all watershed inhabitants can work on as a community to move toward a sustainable future.

These images are taken from the KYH2O video, which helps communicate the problems and solutions in an entertaining manner...

Watershed U was hopefully a first step in generating a shared understanding of the complex workings of our watershed, and the beginning of a broader community-based shift toward sustainable water management. But it will require an ongoing commitment from all of us...

Thanks to Sabrina Drill at UC Cooperative Extension, and the Ventura River Watershed Council for sponsoring Watershed U!

And extra thanks to Karen Bednorz and Patagonia for hosting us for 6 weeks - we couldn't have done it without you!