Few, if any, forces in human affairs are as powerful as shared vision. Peter Senge
Next month, the GCPO and Gulf Coast Prairie LCCs will be convening in Baton Rouge, LA, to engage in Steering Committee discussions. It’s our annual spring/summer retreat, where we really dig into the most important questions and issues facing the GCPO partnership, and I’m looking forward to getting together once again with our Steering Committee and other partners. This year, we'll be meeting in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s All-Hands Meeting, which will provide our Steering Committee an excellent opportunity to learn more about what’s going on with conservation in the Gulf of Mexico, and network with Gulf conservation partners with whom we might not normally cross paths. Indeed, a portion of our meeting will be devoted to the Gulf, and all the work that’s going on in that important area. We're indebted to GOMA, especially to Laura Bowie, the Director of GOMA, for her generous offer to provide access to their venue for our first day of meetings. Our joint meeting with the Gulf Coast Prairie LCC Steering Committee will allow us to discuss questions of mutual interest, such as the future of bottomland hardwood systems in our two LCCs. It's our hope that these discussions will lay a foundation for continuing the collaborative efforts between our 2 LCCs.
The theme for this year’s Steering Committee meeting is “Creating a Shared Vision for the GCPO LCC”, which I think reflects well on where we are right now in the GCPO. Our mission, as articulated in our Strategic Plan, is to “define a shared vision for sustainable natural and cultural resources; design strategies to achieve that vision; and deliver results on the ground through leadership, partnerships, contributed resources, evaluation and refinement over time.” The theme of our meeting really addresses the first part of that mission statement: defining a shared vision. We have been working towards a shared vision for some time now. Indeed, all of our work as a partnership up to now has helped to lay the foundation for developing our shared vision.
Unpacking the definition of “shared vision”
Just think about it: vision implies something visual, something you can see and respond to. In the GCPO LCC, we’ve been working hard to produce that visual element of our work, first through the process of completing Ecological Assessments for our priority systems, then through the Blueprint Workshops we’ve held over the last few months. At our upcoming Steering Committee meeting, we’ll see the results of those workshops and view the maps that depict the GCPO LCC’s Blueprint Version 1.0 for our priority habitat systems. But it won’t be a complete picture because the word “vision” also implies a forward looking goal or direction. Our Blueprint Version 1.0 will only depict the current picture of our GCPO landscapes, as best as we can determine right now, and based on our current state of knowledge, understanding, and available information and technology. We need to transform that snapshot of the current landscape into a vision of a sustainable landscape for the future: what do we want that landscape to look like, and how do we incorporate future changes into the equation? We’re not there yet, but we’ll have a presentation on a process that we’ve been piloting in the Ozarks, a process which we believe can be expanded to the rest of the GCPO.
The second part of “shared vision” is the shared part. “Shared” implies collaboration and ownership and is every bit as important as the actual vision itself. In essence, a shared vision really demonstrates the collaborative power of the LCC. We need to ensure that our partners have every opportunity to come to the table and provide their input and perspectives into the building of our vision.
Since the inception of this LCC, we’ve worked hard to engage our partners throughout this process, beginning with the development of the Integrated Science Agenda, Landscape Endpoints, and Draft Blueprint. There have been numerous levels of partner engagement, including the Steering Committee, Advisory Council, Adaptation Science Management Team, and other groups like the Geomatics Working Group. We've had good engagement, but it hasn't been complete engagement of the partnership, which speaks to the importance of continuous outreach to our partners, old and new. To address that need, we'll be presenting an updated communications strategy for the Steering Committee's consideration. This updated strategy is designed to strengthen and expand our partnership, deepen our outreach efforts to our existing partners, improve the effectiveness of our communications tactics, and establish outcome measures that can be evaluated over time. It's all about helping us to create a vision that is truly shared across the GCPO LCC partnership.
I'm looking forward to this year's Steering Committee meeting in Baton Rouge. It should be an outstanding meeting in a great venue next to the Mississippi River. I hope to see you there!