By Kirstin Lindstrom for EDR Blog.org
Welcome to the EDR Blog, hosted by the University of Utah’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Program (EDRP). Established in 2012 as part of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment in the S.J. Quinney College of Law, the EDRP exists to educate students and the public about the possibilities for collaboration, mediation and other dispute resolution processes as alternative methods to resolve public policy conflicts, especially around environmental and natural resource issues. The EDR Program is one of only a handful nationally with the capacity and tools to build consensus where agreement often seems too difficult or impossible to reach.
The fact that EDR is gaining traction in Utah is significant. Utah is a state of incredible natural beauty and significant natural resources, resulting in multiple competing views on how to manage those resources. Our environmental decisions often impact livelihoods, values and our children’s future. However, Utahans are increasingly aware of the need to discuss our differences openly and respectfully, leading to increased community involvement, increased collaboration and ultimately, implemented solutions that meet multiple needs.
Through guest bloggers and EDRP staff and students, we will use this blog to highlight EDR projects in Utah and beyond, pointing out best practices and lessons learned. We will discuss current controversial issues facing the West and suggest how EDR can be used to resolve these conflicts. We will explore and discuss exciting research on the science behind the unique human ability for collaboration and dialogue. Most importantly, this blog will demonstrate that alternative resolution processes work – even in highly contentious environments.
Our inaugural blog posts, to be posted over the next few days, hint at the diversity of authors and topics we intend to feature:
- “Collaboration and Partnerships in Public Land Management,” by Cheryl Probert, Deputy Forest Supervisor
- “Are We Wired to Cooperate?,” by Michele Straube, Director, EDR Program
- “The Mountain Accord: A Model of Environmental Conflict Resolution for the Wasatch Mountains?: Thoughts about Conflict in the Wasatch,” by Ralph Becker, Mayor, Salt Lake City
After this initial flurry of posts, we plan to post a new blog entry every two weeks. Sign up here for email notifications of new blog entries, or check back regularly at www.edrblog.org.
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We welcome your blog entries to further the conversation and to model constructive dialogue. To that end, we encourage blog entries from the general community, elected officials, government employees, and any advocacy groups with experience using collaboration, mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods. We recognize that we operate in a controversial arena, and that there are competing views over every imaginable environmental and natural resource issue. We welcome rebuttals, alternative views or proposed solutions to all of the topics we present here. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Kirstin Lindstrom at Kirstin.firstname.lastname@example.org, or Michele Straube at email@example.com.
Kirstin Lindstrom is a 2011 graduate of the S.J. Quinney College of Law. Her interest in EDR began when assisting Professor Michele Straube with her facilitation work with the Escalante River Watershed Partnership. She also collaborated with Professor Robert Keiter on a paper for the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation on achieving consensus over energy development in Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon. She is an attorney at Lear and Lear, LLP, a boutique natural resource law firm in Salt Lake City.