The ASAP Team was excited to be a part of the Local Solutions Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire earlier this month. We presented the 2018 New England Regional Adaptation Leadership Award, debuted our new training: Becoming Principled Adaptation Professionals and Transforming our Field of Practice, and spoke about volunteers accelerating adaptation action during a panel about encouraging residents to be spokespeople for adaptation. But far and away the best part of the conference was reconnecting with Northeast-based ASAP members. We’re grateful to be able to share reflections from two of them, Melissa Ocana and Lisa Graichen.
Both Melissa and Lisa enjoyed connecting with colleagues about developing and maintaining climate-related collaborative networks. Melissa coordinates the Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network (Mass ECAN) via her role at University of Massachusetts Extension. Lisa, who works with University of New Hampshire Extension/NH Sea Grant, is an active member of the New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup (CAW). Melissa said, “this conference was a helpful reminder that our network can learn much from and contribute to other networks in the region. It was insightful sharing with coordinators of networks such as the Climate Leadership Network for higher education, Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), and NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup.”
Melissa helped facilitate ASAP’s workshop on “Growing into Principled Adaptation Professionals.” During the workshop, participants used ASAP’s Living Guide to the Principles of Climate Change Adaptation to create a checklist of questions to help assess how their work is reflecting best practices in the adaptation field. This exercise prompted participants to ask questions like:
- “Am I using the most up-to-date science?”
- “Who would feel left out/ who should be at the table?”
- “How does this leverage collaborations?”
- “Am I factoring in uncertainty and leaving room for adaptive management?”
- “How am I measuring success?”
“We don’t often get the space or time to reflect on our practice with fellow adaptation practitioners who get ‘it,’ so I appreciated this session,” said Ocana. We appreciate you, Melissa! And we appreciate the Massachusetts state government-led resilience work you’re helping support: the MVP Program and integrated State Climate Adaptation and Hazard Mitigation Plan.
A highlight for Lisa was watching NH CAW co-chair Sherry Godlewski from New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services win the ASAP Regional Adaptation Leadership Award (RALA). (And a highlight for ASAP was giving out the award!) Also, Lisa noticed that at climate conferences like this one, there is a growing focus on creative outreach and engagement approaches, climate impacts on mental health, and the importance of equitable adaptation. Hearing about interesting projects and practices, such as the one in Richmond, Virginia, that combined science museum education, art, video, and citizen science to make progress on urban heat island issues in the city, was a valuable piece of her conference experience.
Lisa and Melissa both appreciated hearing colleagues share their challenges in addition to their successes. Lisa said, “Several colleagues and I were (sort of) joking that we’d love a session at a future conference that focuses on failures! Sharing both kinds of lessons is important (and cathartic!)” Melissa noted that she found the session hosted by ASAP partner EcoAdapt on monitoring and evaluation addressed critical, difficult, and often overlooked aspects of adaptation work. “The truth is that it’s hard to measure success of adaptation actions.”
We share Melissa and Lisa’s sentiment that the best part of the conference was the people. Lisa summed it up well when she said, “I left with a much-needed boost of optimism, knowing that so many fantastic people are working hard on climate adaptation around the region.” We’re grateful to the Antioch University Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience for hosting such a successful event, and are already looking forward to Local Solutions 2020.