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Meeting Amazing Adaptation Professionals

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Keith Henty, ClimateWise Project Developer

enews 2013 07 naf 5More than 500 people attended the National Adaptation Forum in Denver, and I wish I could have talked to them all. I did get to chat with dozens of fascinating, super-smart people and mention a few here. Those brief conversations plus excellent workshops sparked my imagination for dream jobs and potential partnerships. The Geos Institute participated as a sponsor, presenter, and exhibitor (see our poster Creating ClimateWise Communities).

Presentations included:

Some highlights:

The Nature Conservancy seems to be everywhere, and they have deep history in working in coastal communities.

I met Joy Brown, a Marine Restoration Specialist in Mt. Pleasant, SC. She has an enviable task—exploring/preserving the coastal Lowcountry by boat.

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At the NAF in Denver, Roger Stephenson of Stephenson Strategic Communications explains his poster (“This is Your Journalist on Data”). Photo: Keith Henty, Geos Institute.

The Red Cross is active in community preparedness and resiliency services in many vulnerable communities. I heard Angie Grajeda reflecting on their work in Hawaii; she understands deeply the importance of developing trust with locals. Presentation PDF.  The Red Cross takes roles in convening facilitators, resource brokers, and subject matter experts. And I heard this new job title…a “convener catalyst”!

It was impressive hearing Lynne Carter from Louisiana State University informally address a small group. She is the Program Manager of SCIPP (Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program). Those folks are part of NOAA funded RISA teams (Regional Integrated Science Network). The RISA people are vital connectors to communities, providing tools, extensive expertise, and ongoing education and research on adaptation work.

There were huge grins as Bob Doppelt demonstrated some “Me to We” concepts. My table companions roared with laughter as we thumb-wrestled each other at his urging. I appreciated this simple example of shifting our thinking toward working together, from the me–self interest—(I can win this)–to the collaboration (we can advance together by agreement). Doppelt heads up the Resource Innovation Group (TRIG), teaches at the Univ. of Oregon, and writes fascinating books that include From Me to We, and The Power of Sustainable Thinking.

I kept a tight grip on the card I got from Jeff Weber from Portland, Oregon. His work on the Oregon Coastal Community Resilience Network Pilot Project caught my attention. Here’s the PDF-powerpoint: Fostering Community Resilience Through Multi-Hazard Planning.  They have some NOAA and FEMA funding and are establishing a “resilience network” in coastal NW Oregon.

Gwen Shaugnassy is one of those sharp trainers who teaches Climate Adaptation for NOAA’s Coastal Communities Training Course. She works out of the NOAA Coastal Services Center  in Chas, SC. Among their many resources, NOAA has a digital coast website with Lidar and many more tools. Here’s a web link for sea level rise and coastal impacts viewing

I met an enthusiastic and very articulate Sherry Godlewski from New Hampshire. She is the Environmental Program Manager with the NH Dept. of Environmental Services, and they have been bringing community planners together for several years now. She told me about the exciting evolution of the New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup (NHCAW). They provide communities with education, facilitation, and guidance. See StormSmart Coasts.  

The town of Exeter is one community benefitting from their work. “By the end of 2014, Exeter is expected to have the most rigorous climate adapation plan on the NH coast”, according to the Seacoast Online. Here’s a quote: “Unfortunately, right now we can’t reverse climate change; the only thing we can do is slow it down,” UNH research professor Paul Kirshen said. “And because we can’t reverse climate change, we have to adapt.”

A final NAF session for me focused on ways to effectively engage the public in climate adapation and disaster response efforts.

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Presentation at the National Adaptation Forum: From left, Roger Stephenson, Cara Pike, Queen Quet (speaking), and Jacqui Patterson at an NAF workshop.

For insights, look to the work of the session leaders:

  • Ann Baughman of Freshwater Future,
  • Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head of State for the Gullah-Geechee Nation,
  • Jacqui Patterson, Director of the NAACP Climate Justice Initiative, and
  • Cara Pike. Pike seems to know everything (and just about everyone) to do with climate adaptation planning—especially linked to communications and research. She is the founder and Director of the Social Capital Project and Climate Access (Sharing What Works). 


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