Many Voices . . . A Common Vision

Volume 1, Number 2
October 1995

Closing in on 50 Roundtables

Buoyed by the success of seven roundtables held during the past two months, public support and momentum for the citizen-driven Seventh American Forest Congress is clearly building at all levels of involvement. A key lesson of the past 60 days is to establish a broad-based or- ganizing committee as soon as possible to assure a productive roundtable. Attracting at least one organizing committee member who can encourage participation by local property owners and environmental groups balances the easier-to-obtain involvement of industry and government officials.

Organizing committees also should strongly consider bringing other, less polarizing voices to local roundtables. The inclusion of community, recreation and urban forestry groups, as well as students and educators , adds fresh perspectives to issues that traditionally have been debated primarily through newspaper headlines. The new perspectives can break down old tensions and help forge the common areas of agreement that the roundtable process and the Forest Congress seek to achieve.

The contributions of each local roundtable will be synthesized into a draft summary prior to February. By mid-October, 10 roundtables had met around the country. After the four initial pilot meetings, a second Oregon roundtable was held, as were two were in Indiana, and one each in Georgia, Idaho and Wyoming. Local organizers have confirmed another 25 will be held. Proposals for eight more are now under consideration, bringing the current projected total to 43.

Finding willing participants to roundtables is not usually a problem. The more common problem is mending the disappointment of individuals and groups unintentionally omitted when planning a roundtable. The best way to solve the problem: Build a broad-based organizing team.


Registration forms and materials are available at the Office of the Forest Congress. Because of the need to achieve diverse representation at the Congress and within Table Teams, please fill out the brief questionnaire on yourself and your interests in forests on the registration form.

Senior Sponsors Meet the Press

"Forest conference seeks unity," and "Industry, greens push forest congress in D.C.," were just two of the headlines from hundreds of news stories across the country which resulted from a press conference on October 3 to present the Forest Congress to Washington-based reporters.

Following a morning meeting of the Senior Sponsors Board, eighteen reporters joined them at the National Press Club for lunch and a briefing on the Forest Congress. The Associated Press, Gannett, National Geographic, Smithsonian, BioScience, several environmental newsletters, and High Country News were some of the outlets which sent reporters.

Finding common ground, expanding outreach to include more and more points of view, and hearing from the American people not just the constituencies of groups already par- ticipating was a common message at the press conference.

Kass Green of Pacific Meridan Resources in Emeryville, CA, a new member of the Senior Sponsors Board, was one of several senior sponsors who met with the press during lunch. The Senior Sponsors Board also recently added six more new members: James Crowfoot, president of Antioch College; Sally Fairfax, associate dean of the College of Natural Resources, Univer- sity of California-Berkeley; Kathryn Fuller, president of the World Wildlife Fund; John Rasor, senior vice president of forest resources, Georgia-Pacific Corp.; Judith Stockdale, executive director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; and W.D. Ticknor, president of American Forests.

New Board Members

Seven new members joined the Board of Directors of the Seventh American Forest Congress during the past two months. The board, co-chaired by John Gordon, Pinchot Professor of Forestry at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Rex McCullough, vice president of forestry research at Weyerhaeuser Co., now comprises 51 directors.

The drive to attract a wide range of voices and perspectives to the Forest Congress is working. Of the 51 directors, eight work in the forest products industry, six represent environmental organizations, and five work in national, state or local government regulatory agencies.

Six directors are active in community and economic development in regions rich with forest re- sources, eight teach or research forest-related issues at universities, seven work in professional industry or forestry organizations, seven are consultants and four members represent the Office of the Forest Congress.

New additions to the Forest Congress Board of Directors include: Jane Difley, executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, VT; Gretchen Lloyd, Grant's Pass Area Manager, Bureau of Land Management, OR; Robert Olszewski, manager of forest resources, Georgia-Pacific Corp., GA; Kathy Parker, president of the Oriskany Institute, PA; Louis Romero , senior consultant and facilitator at De La Porte & Associates, NM; Robert Simpson, vice-president, American Forest Foundation, D.C.; and Rick Weyerhaeuser, ConserVentures, MN.

After the Congress

At the September meeting of the Board of Directors in Atlanta, the board approved the creation of a new standing committee, the Community Involvement Committee. Prior to the Forest Congress in February, the new committee will facilitate participation by citizens and groups in communities that rely on forests and the forest products industry for their livelihoods.

The work of the Community Involvement Committee will expand after February, similar to the anticipated efforts by committees on forest management, research, policy and education. All five committees will be responsible for implementing the vision and findings of the Forest Con- gress and will use the networks established at the roundtables to achieve the desired changes in management and policy at the state and local levels.

Fundraising Midpoint

Supporting organizations contributed nearly $1.1 million by mid-October to support the Seventh American Forest Congress. The total reflects cash in-hand and pledges. So far, the amount received from foundations concerned with environmental and local community issues is approximately equal to the amount of funding received from industry and business interests. Contributions from public agencies, associations, and individuals comprise the balance of funds either received or pledged to the Forest Congress.

Although the percentage of contributions from this final group is small compared to other donors, it remains equally important to the success of the Forest Congress. Based on the De- velopment Committee's projections of very likely and likely future prospects, this critical balance of constituency support will still hold true at the time of the Seventh American Forest Congress. The fundraising goal for the Forest Congress is $1.9 million.

Training and Communications

Roundtable orientation sessions have been held in Bethesda, MD, Atlanta and Denver. Each provided a background orientation to roundtable organizers and facilitators about the facilitated group process that is the cornerstone of the Forest Congress. Suggestions and guidance about how to prepare for a local roundtable also were provided.

Though no more orientation sessions are planned, a new video, "Orientation for Local Round- tables" is available from the Office of the Forest Congress. Also available are an Organizer's Manual and a Facilitator's Manual for Local Roundtables.

Continuing the Coverage

Board members, roundtable organizers and others are encouraged to continue to help spread the message of the Seventh American Forest Congress especially in conjunction with local roundtables. Roundtables are great opportunities to contact reporters about the Congress and to place op-eds and letters to the editor. Outreach materials are available from the Congress office to help with these contacts.

International Listening Sessions

The Forest Congress is not only citizen-based and a grassroots effort at home, we are listening to others. Many other countries also have conflicts among commodity, environmental and local community values. The first two countries to hold listening sessions were New Zealand and Australia. European listening sessions are scheduled for Germany, Sweden, the United King- dom and Sweden. Another series is planned for Japan.

Next Board Meeting

The Forest Congress Board of Directors will meet at Noon on December 2 at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, 1616 P Street NW, Washington, D.C. A social event is planned for Saturday evening and a final session will be held Sunday, December 3 from 8 a.m. to Noon.

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