BY JOSHUA CUBISTA
In support of learning and leading together while co-creating a restoration economy in the borderlands, the Institute hosted a webinar exploring Shared Work as a model for collaborating together when faced with complex and systemic challenges and opportunities. It was an honor to explore with Tuesday Ryan-Hart and Tim Merry the Shared Work model as a process for understanding and practicing key elements of collaboration through the work that we do together here in the borderlands and around the world.
The Shared Work model describes ways or “stances” for engaging in our work together over time when difference of opinion or style may have prevailed in the past or when the complexity of an issue or dynamic of multiple stakeholders coming together to find best next steps together when it matters.
In the midst of increasing and accelerating systemic change, sometimes simply getting to work together even when we don’t have the answers or when its hard can be the beginning of learning how to lead together and be the best catalyst for learning together how to create positive impact in our work, organizations, and the world.
In addition to exploring the above model with our institute team in preparation for our
upcoming Foundations of Ecological Restoration and Applied Restoration Economy Field School, throughout a two day Collaborative Leadership Lab at the Windsong Peace and Leadership Center in Patagonia the Shared Work & Collaborative Leadership For Systemic Change webinar was explored with the WE Leadership Facilitation team members from across the US who were able to learn and practice personal, social, and systemic leadership capacity building in support of the work Windsong does here in the borderlands as well as the work WE facilitates in thousands of classrooms across the country. Special thanks to Tuesday Ryan-Hart and Tim Merry for sharing their wisdom, stories, and experiences with us, and to the Windsong Peace and Leadership Center and the U.S WE team for all your great work here in the borderlands and around the world. It is such a joy and honor to work with our local and global community in exploring how to contribute at scale while cultivating the needed capacities to practice good shared work together.
BY ALLEGRA MOUNT, PUBLISHED IN THE PATAGONIA REGIONAL TIMES JUNE/JULY EDITION
The Old Main Elementary School’s cafeteria has been given new life as the Borderlands Restoration Seed Lab, the central hub of BRLI’s native seed conservation efforts. Spaces that used to hold tables and chairs now hold lab benches and seed cleaning equipment, and a dry-foods storage closet has been converted into a cooler for storing the seed collection, which is made up of over 600 individual collections of seeds of native species from wild lands across Southeast Arizona selected for their value in pollinator support, erosion control, and cultural enrichment (edible and medicinal plants).
Before moving to Old Main, the seed lab was housed in the small guest-house of a generous town resident, where bookshelves full of jars of seed lined the walls. All these seeds were collected from wild plants on public and private lands, and held within them adaptations to our unique and beautiful Sky Island mountain ranges, including the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains. Last year, our collectors brought in so many seeds the lab was literally bursting at the seams, and so a move to a larger space was in order.
The new space offers the opportunity for the seed lab to grow into an innovative seed cleaning, storage, and research facility. Current projects include an effort to bank seeds of priority species for restoration and conservation across the region, which is supported by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service; seed collection and storage for more than a dozen National Parks; ongoing studies on germination requirements for many native species; and evaluation of seed application methods for restoration (like seed balls).
There are many new developments in addition to the new lab. The seed lab is now selling retail wildflower and grass seed mixes to the public. For more information, visit this page. The lab is also welcoming new partnerships this summer with the Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute and the Smithsonian’s North American Orchid Conservation Center. Future course and training offerings from the seed lab can be seen on this page. To learn more about interning or volunteering at the seed lab, contact Allegra Mount at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, three of our interns (Oliver Ly, William West & Laura Nolier) volunteered to map the wet and dry sections of the Babacomari River - the main tributary to the San Pedro River within the Sierra Vista Subwatershed. Alongside Willie Sommers, Lucy Hyatt, Angela Garcia, Pierre Jouin and Kathy Collins, they walked through riparian grasslands and along Cottonwood-Willow Riparian Galleries, marking the presence of water using a GPS to identify the quantity of baseflow present in the river at the driest time of the year.
About the Initiative
Many people in the arid Southwest care about the fate of perennial streams and their associated riparian communities. The loss of flows in streams and rivers has social, economic, and ecological consequences, so managers and concerned citizens seek ways to track their status.
Every year on the third Saturday in June, The Nature Conservancy invites people to walk or ride horses along desert streams and map where the streams have surface flow and where they are dry. With more than a decade’s worth of data, this work is helping scientists and managers better understand and manage our riparian and aquatic habitats. The data have been consistently collected at the end of the dry summer months, right before the monsoon rains typically begin.
Wet/dry mapping has been used to:
The Nature Conservancy has conducted wet/dry mapping for more than a decade on the San Pedro River and its tributary streams. Data from the first twelve years of wet/dry mapping in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) reveal that wetted length varies from year to year, but the river hasn’t significantly changed overall. That’s good news, and suggests that conservation efforts by public and private stakeholders have made a difference.
Wet/dry mapping turns a walk through the cottonwood forest into meaningful science. Participants in the past have included ranchers, realtors, regulatory agencies, environmentalists, City Councilmen, children, and reporters. It gives interested citizens a chance to learn more about their rivers and get their feet wet in the ecosystem. Along the way, mapping volunteers have encountered species such as coatimundi, mountain lion, leopard frogs, bear, Gila monsters, bobcats, gray hawks, and longfin dace.
By Oliver Lysaght
More than 1,000 people live, work, and play in the Sonoita Creek Watershed, all with varying opinions, values and preferences regarding the environment around them. In order to better understand this social landscape and its relationship to its near environs, in May 2017 BRLI disseminated a survey to watershed residents eliciting information on a range of topics including: attitudes towards, and participation in, activities in the Sonoita Creek Watershed; values residents associate with the area; and preferences for watershed management.
This survey is one research venture of several currently being undertaken under the rubric of the Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute’s ‘Patagonia’s Water Future’ project. Aquifer recharge modeling, stream-flow analysis and groundwater monitoring are also being undertaken concurrently. Its insights can help us better understand how ecological restoration and a restoration economy might support the ecological and economic values of residents in, and visitors to, the Sonoita Creek Watershed.
Preliminary results were presented on June 3rd at Science on the Sonoita Plains:
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.
Updates, News, and Resources from BRLI and Our Partners