The Gates Center at College of the Atlantic (COA) was abuzz with 40 Partners and COA students on May 2nd at the Frenchman Bay Partners Annual Meeting. The third annual meeting was organized around a series of Flash Talks, each followed by breakout sessions modeled on the World Cafe, a model that structures conversations around specific questions. Eight speakers presented on a variety of topics relating to successes of the Frenchman Bay Partners and emerging opportunities.
The first round of Flash Talks focused on Partnership Successes. Bridie McGreavy talked about building partnerships in Frenchman Bay by defining problems, planning actions, pursuing strategies, producing solutions, and sharing learning. McGreavy compared building a solid partnership to working the tides: rough seas, or conflicts, are essential to progress; swirling currents represent spaces of interaction where people can come together; maps and software are needed to navigate; and being mindful of the timing of the tides reminds us to be attentive to other peoples’ needs and perspectives. Success stories about each conservation target, Mudflats, Eelgrass, Diadromous Fish, and Benthic Habitats rounded out the presentation. The first World Cafe breakout session centered on the four conservation targets. Partners could choose which group they wanted to join, and a set of four questions in two rounds guided discussion. Round one asked, “What interests you most about this topic?” and “How do you see yourself getting involved?”. Round two asked, “Who else could help us move forward?” and “What else do you think we need to know or do to advance our work?”. Conversations were captured on wall-sized post-it notes and posted at the front of the room.
The second round of Flash Talks focused on Emerging Opportunities. Jane Disney presented on the future of Frenchman Bay. Partner Jenn Booher shared the story of her Coast Walk project. Duncan Bailey talked about citizen science data portal Anecdata.org. New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST) Masters Student Emma Fox spoke about water quality and coastal management in the area, and how NEST can collaborate with the Partners. Sean Smith, Professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences at University of Maine presented on drainage in the Downeast area, and how landscapes adjust to humans and climate. Four questions guided the second breakout session, hosted by each of the speakers.
The day concluded with a discussion on next steps and elections. Suggestions on who to involve and what steps to take to continue the mission of the Frenchman Bay Partners were recorded. A quick election voted to keep the current slate of officers in place, and moved to establish a steering committee. Click here for meeting minutes.