We could be talking about a housing unit for chickens, or we could talk about my favorite type of video (and board) game – wherein you play with a friend instead of going solo. Instead, let’s consider “CO-OP”s, organizations explicitly arranged around cooperative action.
My family was, as many other homeschool families were, part of a food purchasing co-op. I can remember, on occasion, helping sort hundreds of pounds of bagged bulk-grains into each families pile per what they had ordered. This co-op gave us access to resources and prices we could not have easily obtained from other methods.
But that’s not even the co-op I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the $50,000 lecture. You see, I heard a lecture in undergrad that the prof called his fifty thousand dollar lecture, and he hadn’t even given it that name. It was the same lecture he had given to land and resource managers within the USFS, FWS, and BLM sometime before. After delivering the speech, a gentleman approached him and asked where he had been 5 years ago, because that talk would have saved him fifty grand and years of wasted time.
The essence of the lecture was teaching us to find sustainable solutions to conflict. Public lands are used in as many ways as their are people who want to use them, and as future managers of those land resources, we need to find solutions to ongoing deep conflicts over the lands. The best way to do this – CO-OPs of the stakeholders, the people who really care about the lands. No matter how far they seem to be divided, user groups that respect each other can actually agree on many things as good for the land and the future, and finding common ground can get people off their accusative rhetorics and onto beneficial solutions and teamwork.
It was an absolutely beautiful lecture, and I’ve carried the thought with me when I’m looking for solutions to any kind of conflict.
Unfortunately, respect seems to be rapidly draining from our public conversations. Outrage is the new norm. We feel the need to silence all dissenting voices, and disagreement is perceived as equivalent to hate.
I rejoiced when I recently heard about someone bucking this trend, and pursuing meaningful conversation from all sides, and real change. Not only a positive example of this kind of co-op, but one that bridges two places of my own experience and passion that are deep to me. Two separate societies, of which I am a committed member of both, that don’t see eye to eye, and often think the other has done little more than given them a black eye. I long to see them married to one another. Conservation Biology and Modern Agriculture.
This thrills me, and I want to see more of these.
Please check them out!