RACC Seminar: Cape Cod from 20,000 Feet: How the Cape rediscovered its capacity to govern a shared resource?

We are excited to host a seminar on building relationships with stakeholders to manage water quality, presented by Dan Milz, who has done similar work to us on this topic on Cape Cod. The seminar will be in 23 Mansfield on Feb 29th from 4-5pm, immediately following the IAM Meeting. Hope to see many of you there!

Seminar Video

Water quality degradation continues to plague much of the United States and the world. Such complex environmental problems—where impacts are distributed inequitably and causes are contested—pose significant challenges to developing effective plans and policies. Community leaders, stakeholders, and decision makers must abandon the familiar terrain of their jurisdictional silos to consider cross-scale ecological relationships instead.

For instance, over a twelve-month period in 2013 and 2014, residents and decision makers on Cape Cod developed a new, regional approach to governing wastewater. Rather than resorting to myopic parochialism, on one hand, or a detached regionalism on the other, the Cape’s new approach to governing water actively considered relationships that stretched across and between the multiple levels of their resource system. This new approach was the product of shared conceptual practices used within community planning meetings that integrated scalar levels. Conservations from these meetings were recorded and transcribed, and the conversations were analyzed to distinguish individual strands of talk from the fabric of the fuller conversation thus exposing the judgments of the stakeholder groups. The cross-scale judgments, highlighted by this analysis, allowed the participants to re-conceptualize the institutional relationships governing water on the Cape, to bridge the effects of solutions acting at different scalar levels, to identify and reconsider the composition of cooperative organizational networks, and to propose policies that might enable positive action and constrain maladaptive behaviors. This revelatory example illustrated how collaborative governance can be “rescaled” to anticipate the behavior of the system at one scalar level, to coordinate behavior at lower levels (prevent defection), or to influence a change at a higher level (promote a revolution).

Dan Milz is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Planning in the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at Plattsburgh State University of New York. His research focuses on the judgments that inform collaborative environmental planning. He draws practical examples from extended case studies to show planners how to improve and enhance plan-making judgments in order to overcome obstacles like cognitive biases, spatial scale mismatches, and political disputes. His work is substantively focused on water resources (e.g. water supply planning, water quality planning, and flooding), especially watershed-based planning and management.