From Mike Wood:
I would like to open up a dialogue concerning the relevance and need for public lands within the United States. My interest in doing so is because I deeply value the experience of wildness and the connections to place and nature that come from working in the woods. These are co-equal to me and represent the closest approximation we can have in the modern to how our species has lived for most of our evolution. I am concerned that most of us in the US have lost touch with these experiences and connections, and with each generation the trend is further away from nature and more toward “virtual” realities. People won’t support that which they do not know. Yet, those of us who know the most spend our time focusing on how different we are from one another, thereby splintering the cohort that could otherwise advocate for even the mere existence of public lands.
Here is the background for opening this dialogue.
A couple weeks ago I called Sharon because I was curious about her goals/intentions for this blog site and whether she felt this forum was serving those goals. As our conversation evolved, we began to philosophize a bit about the role of public lands more generally, and whether or not we could start a conversation here that could take a big step back from the usual debates just to see where it would take us . Following this conversation, Sharon sent me the links to several posts on this blog site concerning the 2010 conference in which the topic was, in part, to revisit the findings of the public land law review commission findings 40 years prior. While I found the posts to be interesting it really left me wondering, as I often do, how we arrived at this point, over 40 years after the PLLRC final report.
How is it that so many conversations here and elsewhere devolve into (my view) distractions from what is the more fundamentally important topics? From what I can see, everyone who participates in this on-line debate over public lands management has a reasonably sharp intellect and most participants have a penchant for writing as well (thus you/we participate in the forum). So what’s at issue here?
As a starting point for conversation and just see if anyone else is interested in this stuff, I wanted to make a distinction between “position” and “interest” based communication. While I’m sure this is a review for most everyone, “positions” are fixed in place and are at best a proximate means for serving an underlying interest. For instance, “I am opposed to commercial timber harvest on public lands” is a “position” statement. The real interesting question, in my view, is to ask “What are the underlying interests that this person is attempting to serve and how is it that they arrived at this position as the best alternative in serving these interests”? How often do most of us question the efficacy of our positions, and/or whether they are even serving our interests at all? On the other hand, how many of us could truly articulate our interests clearly and accurately?
An old piece of wisdom I learned a number of years ago suggests that to know the “truth” about another person’s perspective, you have to ask “why” to each response they provide at least five times with each follow up response going progressively deeper until you arrive at the core of their motivation. While it may not feasible to go this far on this blog site, I am curious as to whether anyone would like to carry on a dialogue concerning our underlying interests on this blog site. I have to admit that I motivated by my desire to keep public lands around at least for the next few generations (I’ve heard something about taking care of the next 7 generations…).
If anyone is interested, we could begin by agreeing that to always stay focused on an interest-based dialogue with ear toward understanding the other without judgment for as long as possible. If no one is interested, that’s OK too of course…
Note from Sharon: here is a post by John Rupe on the Land Law Conference put on by the Natural Resources folks at CU Law. It also has a link to the report One Third of the Nation’s Land (1970). Well worth a read to see how far our thinking about public lands has changed since 1970. What were you doing in 1970?