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.


00:22I 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... 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... 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... 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... 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...'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, 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... 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... 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...'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...'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... 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...'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... 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... 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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