July 3rd, 2012

When All You Have Is a Role of Duct Tape

Category: June Meeting

Nancy Ullrey works for the Delta Conservancy and  is a Delta Dialogues participant.

In one dramatic scene from the movie, Apollo 13, NASA engineers threw a boxful of incongruous materials — including a roll of duct tape — onto a table. The materials represented what the astronauts had available in their capsule to repair their air filter so they could survive the remaining hours of their return to Earth. It was a scene fraught with tension, urgency, cooperation, creativity, and focused teamwork.

I was reminded of that scene at the June Delta Dialogues meeting. The same sense of tension, urgency, and cooperation underlay the conversation as the group began to address their differing perspectives of what needs to happen — or not happen — in the Delta, and the impacts of any action in the Delta. Throughout the conversation were the glimmering threads of creativity, waiting for that moment when the focused teamwork of the group will weave those threads together into the strong fabric of understanding that will enfold everyone there. Out of that fabric can come finely crafted agreements tailored to the needs and interests of the Delta and its stakeholders.

As I listen to the other participants talk about their hopes and concerns about the Dialogues, it is that sense of creativity and focused teamwork that comes to my mind. Everyone there shares an interest in a healthy, productive Delta — whatever that means to each — and like those NASA engineers, one day we’ll be throwing out the boxful of materials to get the Delta safely “home.” I’m just not sure if duct tape will be used.