GeoDesign without the Geo-Goodies

Philip Murphy from the University of Redlands presents ""GeoDesign without the Geo-Goodies"" at the 2011 GeoDesign Summit.

Jan 7th, 2011

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00:01Philip Murphy, also from the Redlands Institute at the University of Redlands.

00:11Waiting for my talk to magically appear..

00:15Oops, we're a little further in there,, should be...mmmm, let's go back one.

00:21Okay.

00:22I hope you're all sated with geo goodies, because I'm putting you on a diet.

00:27There will be no maps, there'll be no visualizations, there'll be no excellent, cool videos.

00:33This is a project that's sort of wrapping up right now, the DIS common period...

00:39...just ended the third of December.

00:41It's a project that I was brought into as...many projects will last five or six years by a collaborative mediator...

00:49...Carie Fox out of Portland. This was work done with the Institute of Environmental...

00:53...Conflict Resolution, which I now know is a danger sign.

00:58They only ever called us if it was very big D, as in, it was already lots of trouble...

01:05...and they needed some innocents to go down there and get involved.

01:13So I'll talk a little bit about Giant Sequoia National Monument, I mean, believe it or not...

01:20...it will come as a surprise, there were trees there long before we were.

01:24Giant sequoias, these are the trees that are 3,000 years old in places.

01:29But we've been planning and building and living and dying in that area for many years.

01:33But, in recent history, back in 1990s, there was an MSA, a mediated settlement agreement...

01:43...with the Forest Service and local communities about how this area should be managed for the good of all.

01:52In 2000, it was sort of formalized and President Clinton made a monument of it.

01:57If you make a monument of an area as distinct from a national park or a forest, you create a proclamation.

02:04And a proclamation is an interesting document that sort of says that, here will be this area, this is the area.

02:11It also puts in a fair amount of management suggestions - well, I see, I guess more like constraints and rules...

02:18...about how it should be managed.

02:21The forest, one of the things that was in that proclamation was that the Forest Service, one of the key things...

02:25...was that if you look at the area and, again, there will be no maps shown in this presentation - but if you were to look at a map...

02:31...there's a big, giant sequoia national forest, and right beside it, Giant Sequoia National Park.

02:38The monument is a small area that sort of connects the two, and one of the questions when they were created...

02:44...this monument was, who would get to run it?

02:47What turned out to be quite controversial, it was given to Forest Service.

02:51The Forest Service was told to come up with a management plan, which they duly did in 2004 after multiple suits...

02:58...it was remanded back by judge to the Forest Service to try again.

03:02The word "incomprehensible" was bandied around in that.

03:07And in 2007, the process which I'm now part of...and Carie dragged me into - I'll blame her, was another attempt to...

03:16...okay, given all of that, we have to come up with a plan revision.

03:20Some of the driving issues will be no surprise to many of you who look at natural resources...

03:26...and yes, there are no big urban areas involved in this work out here, this is natural resource areas.

03:32The fire fuels build up.

03:33As you know, the Forest Service is incredibly successful in fighting fires and suppressing fires over...

03:37...the last 50 years, and one of the unfortunate side effects is that you now have a lot of forests...

03:43...have an awful lot of dead and semi-dead timber in it, small trees and medium-sized trees...

03:49...that burn very nicely if you get a good fire going.

03:52In the case of the giant sequoia, that's a great interest.

03:56Sequoias are fire-loving trees.

03:58They only regenerate when they have a good fire.

04:00The reason for that is that small sequoia saplings don't compete very well with other trees.

04:05So, the fire has two great purposes; it burns all of the vegetation around from underneath the trees...

04:10...and it also gets the pinecones to open up and drop their seeds.

04:16So seeds fall in nice, bare area where they can get established, and off you go for another couple thousand years.

04:22So, as fire fuels, that was of great concern, there's a lot of people living in the monument area...

04:24...have houses and have lived there for a long time, and they are concerned about being burnt out of it.

04:29Tree removal.

04:31One way to get the rooms, any room, you have a public meeting and to quickly shift into two groups...

04:34...is to talk about tree removal.

04:36Under what circumstances should a tree be cut?

04:39If you want to reduce fire fuels, you want to get stuff out of there, including medium-sized trees.

04:44Are you going to cut those trees to get them out of there?

04:46Do you want to let natural fire burn those trees away?

04:49How do you get the forest back to what's called a fire-resilient state?

04:52Or, it can go back to loving fire but not being consumed by fire.

04:56Access and recreation in 2007, those who were involved in the very long and torturous MSA agreement back in 1990...

05:06...want to know where the heck have all the things you promised to do back then, where are they now?

05:09You still haven't done them.

05:11So, we all have our nice little three-ring circuses; here's my attempt.

05:17And of course I'm using maps and geodesign as the thing.

05:20The three parts that Carie and I have sort of found, were looking every time is the thing I call governance.

05:24And governance...well, let's start with an easy one. Social ecology, you all know, that is the landscape...

05:29...the people, the fauna, the flora, the trees, how they all work together, how they operate.

05:33Obviously we change, and of course, this change, whether it's a design change or not design change.

05:38Part of what's really putting the pressure on the giant sequoia is climate change.

05:43If you ever see a map of where the last remaining giant sequoias are, it's a very thin strip...

05:48...a hundred, a couple hundred miles long, at the crest of the Sierra Nevadas.

05:52They need moist soil, but not too moist, and generally they've been retreating up and up and up...

05:58...where they're sort of running out; there's no "up" to go anymore.

06:01So you're looking at these 2,000-year-old trees that are, you know, they're endangered.

06:05And so, climate change, we could go either way.

06:08It might help, it could hinder them.

06:10So, some of the change you get is not what you designed but what's actually happening to your resources.

06:15And of course, some we hope to design.

06:17Governance is a word that I use and I can't stand and I'm delighted if someone could help me come up...

06:21...with a better one, but it incorporates all of the issues around who governs this?

06:24What documents govern this?

06:26How do you make a decision?

06:27Who will make a decision?

06:29I noticed in Carl's taxonomy he had to pick an organization.

06:35In this case, what's key, and what I said before, it's the documents.

06:38There are now about five or six documents; there were a couple of regional and national forest plan guidance things...

06:44...passed over the same years as the list I gave you.

06:47So one of the problems that faces the forest supervisor is, we have all these competing documents...

06:51...telling us how to run this place; how are we going to do it?

06:53If you have a public meeting, everyone quotes the proclamation.

06:56So, one of the things we quickly realized is that, so, but this stuff, we've seen plenty enough so we're not going to mention it...

07:02...the overlap is very interesting.

07:05How should we evaluate it, how might the accident, okay, we all know this stuff..

07:08For me, how should we evaluate the proposed actions?

07:11How are we going to do that when it's not just about, you know, we have our normal...

07:17...we do our simulations and so forth.

07:19But for us, the key is how are we going to actually decide what's a good-looking outcome.

07:24It's big D in the sense that the people in the room, in these public meetings be finding for 25 years...

07:29...and there were many different groups with many different historical connections.

07:33So we very quickly, the assessments going down that left-hand side and that's what facilitators/mediators do very well.

07:39They go in, they talk, they have coffee, they have tea.

07:42They do very quickly to get down to what's the meat of what's going on here what has to be done?

07:48What has to be thought about?

07:49Having got that, of course, everyone's very interested in how you might change the landscape because they all have ideas...

07:54...about why they have a good way to do it.

07:56Some would like to garden the landscape back into submission, others would like to let fire just burn.

08:01See what falls out of there.

08:03And so, and how we need to evaluate.

08:05So that was the key part we wanted to focus on, and the very first thing, oh yes, the word is going to be geo goodies.

08:11There's utility and incredibly deep forest simulations being done. There's fire shed simulation and all sorts of stuff...

08:15...that has been done by the Forest Service.

08:17There's also the great Forest Service-generated tools to show different management practices...

08:22...how that would change over, how that would affect the ecosystem over 100 years.

08:27We were promised air quality because one of the unfortunate things is if you burn, if you let fires burn in the monument...

08:33...you're sending people to hospital down in San Joaquin Valley.

08:35So, you have to really find those few good days a year when you can burn.

08:39So, when I left here last year, I was totally not convinced that geodesign had anything to say to me.

08:48After a year of actually thinking, which I find does actually help, I've got a couple of strong things, issues...

08:57...the thing I'm talking about today, which was the place of decision making in this.

09:00And the second is, that particular, I know it's only one flow; that flow goes down and up and down...

09:06...and down again is actually critical.

09:07If you want to figure out, I don't have time to go through it now, but if you think about that...

09:12...if you think about different idea about they are different designs, the different design methods over there...

09:17...eight or nine or ten or however many there are, in a sounder ecoprocess there's about...

09:20...five design methods going simultaneously by different groups.

09:23There are that whole up/down three-hour stuff, and...you try and do all of those in one shot and everyone...

09:29... is amazed about it the time you get to DIS and the alternatives, you often don't have the best alternatives.

09:33And so, at least staying away from this, I now know in the future how we're going to change that.

09:38So, I'd like to try and change it.

09:41We've had many places there this is typical legal process; we had a number of places where we...

09:45...decided we would try and intervene on this.

09:47The very first thing we did was we actually put up, the proclamation is only five pages so we put it up on the web.

09:52We made it simple that you could click on any part of the five pages.

09:56Notice also that - actually, I've jumped over - Thom Cheney's wonderful artwork.

10:00One thing facilitators/mediators do, and they think it's so natural they can't understand what's wrong with technology.

10:04They don't have meetings in ugly rooms.

10:07It's just a thing you don't do.

10:08Not unless you're, you know, absolutely desperate.

10:09You try to make nice rooms.

10:10So we hired an artist; I mean, a revolutionary idea.

10:13And so all of the stuff you see around this... For us, technologists, it's only art, background, I mean, let's get to the engine.

10:19This really doesn't matter to people as to how they feel about what you're inviting them to participate in.

10:25So, we took the proclamation.

10:29You can imagine after 10 years of fighting that lots of people have written lots about what the proclamation means.

10:33I should, the proclamation had many - this is, for instance, the proclamation says we want to preserve objects.

10:42No kidding. The word "objects" appears right there.

10:43So, you can imagine the argument about that.

10:46What the heck is an object?

10:47Is an ecosystem an object?

10:48Is a pebble an object?

10:49Is an acorn an object?

10:50What's an object?

10:51How do we preserve it?

10:52So, there were commentaries that have been developed over the year, how we gather those together...

10:55...we made it clickable so you could go see those individual commentaries, what people talked about...

10:59...you could comment on the thing itself.

11:01As I said, there's lots of...what the heck's an object?

11:06So these were ways to get people to start thinking, but what are the documents governing this?

11:10Before you start saying, well, the proclamation says that you can't drive your car into the forest or you can't take...

11:13...your snow ski in there. Have you read it?

11:16Have you thought about it? Have you looked at all the parts?

11:17'Cause it's a very conflicting document.

11:19And again, with the science of IGIS being developed over 25 years...

11:24And about a hundred people, I would say, got online, started reading this stuff, started getting the impact.

11:28So, at least there was a conversation going.

11:32Engaging on action design.

11:34What might actions look like?

11:35I know it's not just a question of do I burn it or do I cut it?

11:38But that's where everyone wanted to start with. You know, are you going to cut the tree...

11:41...or are you not going to cut a tree?

11:42So, to do that, we have to talk about, well, there are other things that you need to think of...

11:46...that you want to worry about, any action you're going to take on this forest.

11:51So, we wanted to develop a decision framework to look at all those criteria.

11:55Now some of those criteria come easily out of your, how would you call it, when you evaluate the socioecology...

12:03...and you've got some metrics from that.

12:04But there are other metrics.

12:06Some of the key metrics on the right-hand side of those intersecting circles are things with trust.

12:10The Forest Service has really blown trust in that area over 25 years.

12:13There's a lot of people with relations, whose relation with the Forest Service and with their neighbors have been very damaged...

12:18...by arguments and fights that have occurred.

12:20So, when we built, when we're looking at this in framework, we're not just looking at those things that...

12:25...come straight out of you know, if you can imagine how the future will look with these changes in place...

12:30...how's my evaluation going, how am I doing?

12:33Okay. Back to this. Okay.

12:36So, you're not really meant to see this; this is a blurry thing, 'cause it was a very moving target.

12:41But one thing I want to point out about this, and I do have this cool green light thing, so we have stuff like...

12:46...protecting visual objects.

12:47'Cause was the key thing in the proclamation, so that appeared in this, and we broke it down to...

12:51...smaller things - the water, the object, et cetera.

12:52Well, the thing I want to bring your attention to is increasing enjoyment in the monument.

12:56That's written in the proclamation; it's a beautiful thing, and it's written right there, you know?

13:00They foster socioeconomics; there are many communities depending on that forest...

13:03...and if you spend much time in forests where people are using them, they're suffering and so this is critical.

13:08I mean, people's livelihoods are at stake.

13:10Made cost-effective, create a compelling plan; this is not what you're thinking, might expect to see there.

13:16This threatens partnerships, this threatens connection to place.

13:20Why a compelling plan?

13:22Because it became very clear that a whole bunch of people don't want to see another planning process...

13:25...that ends up with a plan to get sued the day after it's published.

13:27What's the point? Why should I participate in that?

13:30So these are things that are about process, about relationships, and not necessarily about the straight substantive...

13:34...stuff we often focus on.

13:37So, we began to realize we were having a problem.

13:39We were trying to tell them we're going to build these criteria to help you evaluate plans.

13:43A lot of public, you're going, Eh? How's that going to work?

13:46Meanwhile, the Forest Service themselves were getting nervous, began to realize, wait a minute...

13:50...you're going to think about the decision model we're going to use at the end and use that to tell us...

13:54...what data to think about and to do research on?

13:57Yes, that's what we want to do, I mean, that's, that's, I think the point, that's why what I said...

14:03...as that year went by and I thought about what I'd seen here, in particular, that flow from Carl...

14:06...okay, fine, I’m not the only person that thinks decisions are actually important when you're trying to design the data you want...

14:11...and the process you want to analyze.

14:13So what we did was we decided to sketch the decision process.

14:16This is the scoping, this is long before you [unintelligible].

14:18We've got the Forest Service.

14:19We came up with three crazy alternatives.

14:22One of them was, let it burn, just let nature take its course and stay out of the way.

14:26Another one was to cut everything in sight; go gardening.

14:29And the third was to let every natural fire, was to manage with fire, but in a more sensible way.

14:35We took a subset of those criteria that we have there, and then we got the Forest Service to do something very brave.

14:40We asked each, for those three crazy alternatives, against those alternatives.

14:43We asked the Forest Service experts, would you just give us a quick idea of roughly how you think this might work...

14:53Talk about it.

14:54And so immediately, you guys have all seen it.

14:55When we started at, a - they had some great conversations themselves, b - the public began to realize...

15:00...you're going to tell us how it actually works and why you think about, instead of just waiting...

15:03...until the end and giving us the final alternatives.

15:06And so, this started conversations, and it also showed how a decision would work at the end of the day.

15:12We then went on and I'm running out of time here, but these are all different ways where we got the Forest Service...

15:16...to write down, how do we think about this?

15:18And they themselves are great.

15:19I mean, for instance, this one is about jobs.

15:21The assumption was when they started writing this, oh well, you know, cutting trees will be the best way...

15:24...to keep jobs going in the area.

15:26By the time they finished, they had figured out putting out fires would actually be a better way.

15:29They'll tell you how more people it actually involved and keep controlling the fires smoothly as they tried to bring it back.

15:35And then we get, you know, public online, they put it in their own ways to play with this, they saw how it went, et cetera.

15:36...they sat down with these pieces of paper with the public and with the forest people and said...

15:40Then we took it into big workshops.

15:42And now, you've got real alternatives coming with real analysis, and we sat, and again, they took their...

15:50..."Why did you give it that rating? Why not this rating?"

15:52And then they though it through again, what are the processes that are working?

15:55I'd love to say it all worked out beautifully and that everyone's happy.

15:59But, what happened to the geo goodies?

16:01Well, time and budget knocked resource review assimilation.

16:04There are a bunch of nasty people who claim that because we spent so much time thinking about how we should...

16:08...actually decide the alternatives within the time to do lots of analysis to the alternatives.

16:12It could happen.

16:13But more importantly, planning was determined problematic. The Forest Service themselves...

16:17...realize that what they really need, what they wanted most was not specific actions, but to figure out which...

16:22...documents really guide this forest.

16:24And so it's totally more of a problematic level.

16:29Let's skip over to summaries, I'm out of time, I want you through this more important piece.

16:33Finally, just to wrap up, there's some connections and I wanted to point is Carie Fox and Thom Cheney's art.

16:40If you want, if you like the WPA type art and you'd like to have it in projects, call Tom.

16:46Thank you very much.

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