Introducing “Catching People Doing Something Right”

Lena, the mule, of the Region 2 Packstring at the Retiree Rendezvous

Listening to folks at the Retiree Rendezvous in Vail last week, and having spent the last three years or so on this blog, I noticed some similarities between their concerns and the public’s concerns. Because they were retirees, and we had all been to the same management training, some of the discussion was couched in management talk we had learned.

It’s all about how you treat others (current FS employees) when you deal with them.

The first concept we talked about was “affirm in public, counsel in private”. Retirees have gone on record as being against something in the press, apparently without talking to the current FS folks and getting their side of the story (sound familiar?). People need a chance to hear each others’ side of the story. If you still disagree so be it. But it’s more likely that you will think of the person you spoke with as a human being, and not a faceless member of some stereotyped group (those clueless young whippersnappers, or evil minions of the timber industry, or rabid environmentalists).

The second concept was the well-known “catch people doing something right.” To that end, I’m going to establish a sidebar on this blog where folks can post where they caught the FS (or others) doing “something right.” A problem with this might be that people disagree on what “something right” is…but we’ll see how this develops. It can be as mundane as “clean bathrooms at x site” or “district employees unlocked the gate to the campground so that we could get in late at night.” It could also be “person y, of x environmental group was great to work with on the z project because…”.

I would hope that thinking about things this way will help us open a window on the future that is more positive than many of the debates we have. I know our debates are illuminating, but I’d also like to try various approaches to building trust, and imagining and possibly building towards a mutual future that is less polarized.

We older and hopefully wiser folks, I think, have a call to do that so the many vibrant young people who are working today will have a more positive environment to work in. To that end, and also because I’m retired, you will also see more posts about internal FS issues. I think it will help the people not currently in the organization understand better some of the dynamics that they observe from the outside.

More on futuring and internal issues in future posts- I am trying to locate videos of discussions at the Public Lands Symposium and the Retiree Rendezvous that we could use as a springboard for that discussion.

Anyway, when you catch someone doing something right (local or state or federal agencies, groups, elected officials, environmentalists) please send to me at [email protected] and tell us:
who you are talking about, your story of what happened and why you think it is “something right” and a photo if you have one. Finally, if something good happened with the FS and you don’t know actually who is responsible, that’s OK, tell me anyway and I can do some detective work and find out.

I’m hoping this will be more about human to human interactions and less about our usual policy issues. but like this blog, it’s a grand experiment.

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