Last Thursday was the final Blueprint 2.0 workshop. A very diverse group of about 25 people got together in the NC State Visualization Lab to review draft Blueprint layers and talk about the conservation future of the South Atlantic region.
Just like in other workshops, I floated between groups listening to conversations, providing additional info when needed, and helping keep everyone on time. Just like in other workshops, each group seemed to be having a great time taking on some very challenging questions. Each group, like in other workshops, also broke new ground and contributed something different that hadn’t already come up in a previous workshop. Sometimes it was a more in-depth view on a corridor in the Piedmont, a more detailed discussion of opportunities related to military training routes, or improvements in assessing estuarine integrity. I could go on and on.
After finishing that last workshop, it really hit me: I am so to lucky to be able to work on collaborative conservation in the South Atlantic. More than 200 people from more than 75 organizations registered for the workshops. Despite the diversity of participants, folks at each table got along really well. This was consistent across all 8 workshops in Atlanta, Tallahassee, Charleston, and Raleigh. It really speaks to the strength of relationships you have already built. It also gives me even more confidence in the conservation impact we’ll be making as a community in the future.
Another thing that really helped make the workshops a success was all the extra support from various people and organizations. Thanks to NOAA, the Florida Sheriff’s Association, and NC State University for providing free meeting spaces. Thanks to the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida for providing food at the Tallahassee workshops. Thanks to Cindy Fury and Nicole Rankin for being volunteer facilitators. Thanks to all of you who brought your friends and colleagues (you know who you are).
Now what happens? As staff of your cooperative, we’ve been sorting through the treasure trove of input you provided, and we’re using it to prioritize improvements to be made in Blueprint 2.0 and beyond. In the May newsletter, expect to see a new draft Blueprint 2.0 based on your feedback. We’re already re-running models and making improvements. Of course, Blueprint 2.0 won’t be perfect. So, you’ll also see a draft “known issues” document to capture issues that couldn’t be resolved in time for Blueprint 2.0.
Thanks again to everyone for making these workshops a success!