Three of the six Blueprint workshops are now complete. Huge thanks to the almost 100 people who attended so far. That includes people from 43 different private, local, nonprofit, state, and federal organizations. Also big thanks to the organizations who provided and coordinated meeting space: the North Carolina Botanical Garden, Florida Sheriff’s Association/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And one last shout-out to Georgia TNC and Group Solutions for providing coffee and snacks!
Most of workshop is spent in small group discussions and I’m lucky in that I get to float around all the groups answering questions and solving issues as they come up. That means I get to hear little bits of all the conversations. The amount of creative and practical thinking both about how to improve the Blueprint and how to use the Blueprint to “move the needle” for conservation in the South Atlantic has been really amazing.
Of course, all that expert knowledge gets captured digitally during the workshop. I’ve been going through the comments on the latest Blueprint maps and have already run into a few new issues that we’ll try to fix in this latest draft or at least document as a new known issue. There’s also been a big desire to see a simple explanation of why each area is a priority in the Blueprint. Beginning in the Tallahassee workshops, we started testing out new maps to show that. The maps have been really well received and we hope to release an updated version based on workshop feedback soon.
Another product that workshops are helping with is an improved and more detailed Blueprint implementation strategy. It will have far more detail than previous versions and will include sections for each of the South Atlantic subregions. You’ll see a draft version later this year.
I was very tempted to talk about the results of some of the voting. That will be critical in setting the direction of your cooperative for the next year. That said, I don’t want to influence the results for the next 3 workshops. If you want to know the results, you’ll just have to wait until after all the workshops are done and I talk about the results on the next Third Thursday Web Forum on May 18th.