Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

The Compleat Wetlander: “Tis a Good Season for Communication and Collaboration”

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
—Helen Keller

Years ago I was participating in a wetland workshop where all participants were asked to vote by sticking their share of yellow dots on the items written on flip charts and taped to the walls around the room.  We were all charged with adding one or more of our dots to the pages that listed the items we found most relevant to solving the problems posed in earlier discussions.  I was standing in line preparing to add my dots when the person in front of me threw up his hands in disgust and walked away muttering  ‘It’s always communication that gets all the votes!’

As he walked away I reflected on the large number of yellow dots that had been stuck on the ‘communication’ page and his reaction.  Why did communication get so many votes and why did some people react so negatively to the concept?

I thought with sudden clarity that ‘communication’ was often one of the most powerful tools available to address issues.  At the same time it is rarely harnessed effectively.  Many opportunities fall by the wayside because of a failure to find ways to share and explore ideas, address concerns, and identify and carry out common goals.

But where to start?  It’s a big topic.  Actually it’s a GIGANTIC topic.

Over the past year here at the Association of State Wetland Managers we’ve established a communications workgroup.   We started with trying to identify ways to get wider distribution for our written materials, a broader readership for our e-zines like Wetland Breaking News and more people signed up for our webinars.  This led us to inventory not only our distribution systems, but also our partnerships.  We concluded that while we have many partners that we value and will continue to work with, we needed to think about broadening that circle.  We needed to identify additional groups with common interests and goals who had the  potential to become collaborators.  Using this process we found new state nonprofit organizations, scientific societies and planning organizations to work with.  We have been very pleased with our progress so far.  So, we offer to you a list of possible collaborative activities to review that you might currently have underway or be planning to carry out in the future.  Are there new partners to reach out to?  These partnerships need not be very elaborate.  Begin with an e-mail, a conference call or a meeting.  Identify the most obvious ones first. Start small.  Identify joint actions that are achievable and be patient. Creating effective collaborations is hard work. Many fail due to an inability to invest sufficient staff time and resources, so don’t over reach.   Finally, let us know if it works out!

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