BY LYNN DAVISON, ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE PATAGONIA REGIONAL TIMES
On June 1, the Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute (BRLI) begins its first year of operations. Over the past year of planning, supported by Biophilia Foundation, the Institute crafted a bold mission to build a restoration based economy in the borderlands region of Sonora and Arizona. Founding partners are Borderlands Restoration, Deep Dirt Farm Institute, Wildlife Corridors, Cuenca Los Ojos, and Borderlands Habitat Network. Collectively they have over 45 years’ experience doing restoration work throughout the borderlands. The challenge for the Institute is to expand knowledge through research and collaboration which will translate into more field projects to restore the land for people and wildlife, provide more sustainable jobs and businesses within our region, and teach technical skills and the leadership capacities. The goal is to build local support and involvement and to pass on this knowledge across the globe. That is one tall order.
In this first year, the Institute will offer a summer field course, a six week program that introduces students to the physical, cultural, and political realities of the borderlands and then provides specific project based learning There will also be a series of community presentations during July and August provided by our faculty. Throughout the year there will be workshops, presentations, and short courses delivered in Patagonia and other places within the borderlands region of Sonora and Arizona. For example, last month Gary Nabhan, long time Patagonian, UofA professor, and Institute senior fellow, led a program in Banamachi, Sonora focused on traditional techniques to support water conservation and food production. Joshua Cubista, Interim Director of the Institute, senior fellow, and Permaculture For Systemic Change adjunct-faculty at Prescott College, will be hosting a Collaborative Leadership Lab at the Windsong Peace and Leadership Center. A systemic leadership workshop with the Institute, and an online course dedicated to exploring how to work together to create positive impact will be offered, as well. There will be at least 10-15 BRLI supported field projects and educational programs delivered by partner organizations, in addition to the existing work these partners already have in play. The activities will range from research and demonstration projects to educational activities tied to the field work.
The Institute expects to develop a robust intern program. This summer, two international students, Laura Nolier and Oliver Lysaght, are finishing up a year of remarkable contributions as interns supporting the Institute and its partners Borderlands Restoration and Cuenca los Ojos. Nolier and Lysaght will leave in mid-July to continue their studies at the London School of Economics. There will also be two interns from the Doris Duke Program at NAU and two from Wofford College coming on board this summer. Other internship opportunities may become available later in the year. When at full staff later this summer and fall, the Institute will have seven permanent employees and hopes to purchase at least $300,000 worth of projects and educational programs to be delivered in the borderlands region with the aim of supporting jobs and moving resources into the local economy. The Institute is beginning the process of recruiting for Institute Director, IT specialist, development and communications officer, and a grants and contracts coordinator. Job descriptions and process for application can be found on HERE.
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