IF has long had a public participatory presence in Wisconsin, with three Fellows located there and a Wisconsin-based coordinator for an intense program of citizen discussion of IF guidebooks on policy possibilities. IF looks for occasions to partner with other public conversation efforts and found an interesting potential opportunity about a year ago when we started exchanging ideas with the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters (WASAL).
It turned out that WASAL was launching a Waters of Wisconsin effort just as IF was starting a Future of Freshwater Project, with one panel meeting in Wisconsin. For WASAL this effort was a revisiting and updating of water issues examined about ten years ago. A number of WASAL water specialists came onto the IF water panel and a number IF water panelists served on WASAL water exploratory sub-groups.
At the same time WASAL was bringing some explorations of Wisconsin climate and energy efforts to a conclusion that would be set forth as a “road map”. IF had previously conducted projects on climate and energy rooted largely in Wisconsin discussions and had conducted dozens of citizen discussions based on the resulting guidebooks.
WASAL then organized a Resilient Wisconsin Day (RWD) to bring public sector agency staff, educators, scientists, community organization representatives, and interested citizens to hear presentations and hold conversations on the intersections between policy on climate, energy, and water. IF was given a role in conducting a discussion on climate and energy policy possibilities, with Fellow Adolf Gundersen and Wisconsin Public Discussion Coordinator James Schneider conducting a session that both used IF process and IF materials.
IF Fellows Pete Shively and Dennis Boyer participated in other sessions and distributed IF materials related to RWD themes. All Wisconsin water project panelists attended and some had featured roles in presentations and sessions. Over 160 participants attended RWD and about 40 participated in the climate and energy discussions. Wisconsin contract facilitators Karen Stollenwerk and Alan Anderson assisted Gundersen and Schneider with the discussion sessions.
The response to IF materials and process was positive. Next steps will involve continued dialogue with WASAL as it determines how to promote further public conversation on the RWD themes.