February 21st, 2013

Delta Dialogues in the News


DD Panel Discussion

Although the Delta Dialogues have been in hiatus, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy. On February 6, 2013, the Delta Dialogues was featured in a panel discussion entitled “Is Peace Possible In the Delta Water Wars?” at the UC Center in Sacramento. Panelists were Jason Peltier, Dale Hoffman-Floerke, Russell van Loben Sels, and Gilbert Cosio. Joe Mathews, who usually writes on this blog, was the moderator.

About 150 people attended the hour long panel discussion. Daniel Weintraub, from HealthyCal.org, wrote a nice summary at their website, here.

September 13th, 2012

When seeing is hearing new understandings arise


The adage “Seeing is believing” got flipped for me the other day as I read the dialogue maps from the August 2012 meeting held at the Old Sugar Mill; reading the maps became an experience of “seeing is hearing” for me. Let me explain.

Dialogue mapping captures the concepts of a conversation in a way that keeps intact the context and connections of what is said. Other commitments prevented me from attending the August meeting, and I wanted to get a sense of what happened. Reading through two maps in particular I finally heard something I had not heard before (which is not to imply it had not been said before).  The experience was not of just reading a fact or a statement, but of actually hearing—as in understanding a little bit better—different aspects of an issue.

Here are the two statements that struck me:

“Delta believes there’s need for conveyance. Just a question of how to do it. We get all the impact, they get all the benefits” (from What can we build shared understanding around?)

“Delta interests would have to come up with a coherent set of asks” (from How can we bring in-Delta interests to the table?)

In all the meetings I have attended over the years, I do not recall hearing so clearly these two points: what benefit from the other processes could come to the Delta residents and what is it that the Delta residents want from the other processes. I felt excited about my “ah-ha” moment.

These two statements seemed to me to be like two sides of the same coin; a coin that is minted in openness and willingness to learn and that can be spent in developing mutually satisfying outcomes. These two statements, taken together, invite the Delta Dialogue participants to explore more fully.  I think such a conversation will lead to better understanding and better options to manage the complex situation in the Delta.

This “ah-ha” experience confirmed for me the benefit of dialogue mapping as a means of communicating and building shared understanding.

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.