Notes From the Field: Historic Georgetown Inc. Facilitation

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As facilitators, CDR’s Taber Ward and Emily Zmak understand the importance that location plays in a successful facilitation. The location sets the tone, the literal atmosphere, and provides space for effective engagement. And so, for our client Historic Georgetown, Inc., there was no better location to facilitate their Board Retreat and Strategic Planning Session than a historic schoolhouse–complete with chalkboard walls, squeaky floorboards, and windows overlooking Georgetown, Colorado.

Nestled in a quiet Front Range valley, Georgetown is a small mountain community with deep historic roots. The town’s character is tied to its silver mine legacy, Victorian-era architecture, mountain scenery, and, subsequently, the tourism that supports the town today. Tourists flock to Georgetown, often drawn in from the I-70 thoroughfare, and take in the town’s train rides, shopping, historic landmarks, and annual Christmas Market.    

Historic Georgetown, Inc. (HGI), is the premier institution behind preserving and promoting awareness of Georgetown’s historic character. HGI oversees multiple landmark sites in Georgetown, organized public engagement opportunities, supports historic homeowners, and hosts the annual Christmas Market. When an HGI board member asked CDR to facilitate the HGI Board’s strategic planning retreat, it was an opportunity that Taber Ward described as “an honor and chance to contribute to Colorado’s mountaintown legacy and unique, historic import.”   

Facilitating the Board meetings for Historic Georgetown was an exciting opportunity for CDR’s Taber and Emily. Taber has worked throughout the Front Range I-70 Corridor on public involvement projects, and brought a strong understanding of the various challenges faced by Colorado’s mountain communities. Working with HGI was an opportunity for Taber to focus on just one of these challenges: maintaining and preserving historic character. “For me,” Taber said, “it was great to support a town that has been so involved in the I-70 mountain corridor project and invested in protecting the character of Georgetown.  Emily had been with CDR for just three weeks and HGI was her first client project. It was an opportunity for her to support a project start-to-finish, from strategic planning retreat design and one-on-one interviews to facilitation and follow-up. She said, “This project was such an amazing way to on-board with CDR. I was learning something new every minute.”

The Board Strategic Planning retreat resulted in agreement around HGI’s five-year vision, direction, purpose, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and action plan — which is no easy feat for a half-day retreat. The agenda for the day was action-oriented. Through a visioning process, facilitated dialogue, group work, and consensus-building, the Board determined concrete steps for implementing change and enhancing their strengths.

Notes From the Field: CDR Assists the Liberian Forest Development Authority with its Global Climate Change Initiative

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Liberia possesses some of the most extensive and bio-diverse primary tropical rain forests in the world.  They cover 4.3 million hectares, are an important national environmental and social endowment, and are central to the economic development of the country and critical for livelihoods of its citizens. The Government of Liberia is embarking on a major national and international venture to help address global climate change. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Government of Liberia is participating in the Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative to

CDR Associates, with  partner Parley Liberia, has been supporting the Liberian Forest Development Authority and concerned stakeholders to develop an effective Feedback and Grievance Redress Mechanism (FGRM) that will effectively address disputes that may arise during REDD+ visioning, planning and implementation phases.  Having a FGRM in place is a requirement for REDD+ readiness. To date, CDR has prepared the Inception Report for the project, is supporting fieldwork conducted by Parley, and is helping convene a representative group of stakeholders to participate in multiple “designshops” to design and build national capacities to implement the FGRM. For more information, contact Chris Moore or Susan Wildau or visit our sustainable development practice area page.

Notes From the Field: CDR Assists the Government of Liberia and Customary Communities to Resolve Disputes over Boundaries

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The Government of Liberia is engaging in a process to empower customary communities to have ownership of their historic lands legally recognized under statutory law. This will be a significant achievement, as in the past most land not on the coast and held under statutory law, was directly owned and controlled by the state.  It is expected that greater community control of land and the formation of community-based land management committees will help promote grass-roots driven development.

Part of the procedure for recognition of customary land involves harmonization of community boundaries, the negotiation of mutually acceptable borders between neighboring customary communities.  As part of the process, CDR Partner Christopher Moore, working with Tetra Tech under a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development, has conducted a desk study on international best practices on boundary negotiations and drafted a guidance note to help communities more effectively reach agreements on their boundaries. Contributions to the document on Liberian experiences in negotiating boundaries were made by Parley, CDR’s Liberian partner, based on field studies in 12 communities.  The document, Boundary Harmonization: Effective Negotiation Procedures to Delimit, Demarcate and Resolve Disputes over Boundaries, will be published by Tetra Tech and USAID in the fall of 2016.

In addition to writing Boundary Harmonization, Chris in cooperation with Parley, conducted a five day workshop, including a training-for-trainers component, for Liberian NGOs and government personnel who will be working with communities to prepare them for boundary harmonization activities. For more information, contact Chris Moore or visit our housing, land and property practice area page.

Notes From the Field: 25-Mile Swim for Improving Water Quality and Coastal Restoration – Lake Ponchartrain, Louisiana

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CDR’s CEO, Jonathan Bartsch supported the first ever 25 mile swim across Lake Pontchartrain to celebrate the improved water quality and coastal restoration of the area. The 25 mile swim was to support the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF), an organization dedicated to cleaning up the lake and drawing attention to coastal wetlands issues.  LPBF is celebrating its 25Thanniversary of tirelessly working to improve the water quality and quality of life in New Orleans.

Starting on the night of June 12 2014, Matthew Moseley and his support crew swam across Lake Ponchartrain, battling waves that grew to 4 feet and completed the first ever  swim across the lake in 14 hours and 55 minutes. The danger wasn’t merely lake swells and utter exhaustion, an interested alligator was pulled from near the finish area one hour prior to conclusion of the swim, adding additional drama to the exciting event.  Moseley followed the English Channel rules, which meant that he couldn’t touch another boat or person for the entire length of the swim. The major physical and mental accomplishment by Moseley was the first recorded solo crossing of Lake Ponchartrain.

While swimming is a different way to approach collaborative problem-solving work in the water arena, it is consistent with CDR’s commitment to promoting sustainable change in difficult situations.  For example, the LPBF has taken Lake Pontchartrain from a lifeless, dirty body of water with an EPA declared ‘no swim zone’ and turned into a resource with a healthy water quality and abundant supply of fish.  The Ponchartrain swim serves to remind us of the limitless possibilities when a vision is accompanied by careful planning, dedication and endurance.

For more information on Matt Mosley and his swim across lake Pontchartrain, click here.