Cascadia Restoration Guild and Restoration Camping
This page describes a "draft for discussion" and we'd be grateful for your insight or thoughts. This concept was inspired by the visions of John D. Liu and Commonland, to develop ways of mobilizing popular support to reverse desertification in the Spanish Altiplano in collaboration with local land-owning partners. The goal of "restoration camping" is to reduce the intermediation of government and money in ecosystem management, and to bring the labor of agencies, cities and students into a healthy relationship with rural communities. We envision a membership-based direct action community that collaborates with local landowners, and leverages public sector resources. Our starting point is by providing stewardship services to land trusts in exchange for camping access. The Guild establishes seasonal camps that bring together restoration scientists, ecological designers, regenerative farmers, ecological foresters, and ancestral skillkeepers (from basket makers to hunters), who trade knowledge and perspectives, as they work to implement designs and develop a watershed vision. Local landowners are invited, neighbor to neighbor, to share knowledge, break bread, and collaborate.
What's the Problem?
The ecosystem management challenge is both ecological and cultural. At the same time that we are degrading vegetation, soils and water, as salmon approach extinction, propelled by population growth and climate change, we struggle with community identity, educating our youth, and collaborating among different communities to form a single society.
Building ecological capital is how we can best ensure quality of life into the future. That requires that we live thoughtfully, and invest in ecosystems, whether that is water retention, soil health, biomass or habitat for biodiversity. There are many ways to do this.
Empowering local communities to become stewards requires sharing the authorities and burdens of public agencies, to dissolve some of the barriers between communities and their governments.
Moving beyond tax and spend recovery requires that we consider ecosystem and our community assets beyond their market assessment, and learn how to make stewardship a cultural phenomena.
Restoring the relationships among peoples and ecosystems demands that we develop beneficial relationships between ecosystems and people, and consider how we build the knowledge and trust necessary for communities to interact with their ecosystems.
Integrating ecosystem stewardship into our education systems is critical so that ecosystem knowledge is not hard to get, or sold at a high price, but is the birth right of each community.
Finding common ground can help us take care of ecosystems with less ideology, power or money, and more collaboration about shared responsibility.
Conversing among professionscan help us reduce the isolation among people working in restoration, construction, research, agriculture, government policy, hunting and ancestral skills.
Teaching our skills to youth closes the loop, so that the next generation is wiser then we are, and has both the practical experience and the perspectives to continue the work of stewardship.
We are attempting to restore and tend an ecosystem, but the "human systems" we have now are slow, expensive, burdened with conflict, and may ultimately be incapable of broad-scale stewardship. Our current government driven conservation model doesn't "scale up". We cannot buy all the land and labor necessary to take care of water and fish with public funds. We need to radically increase ecosystem stewardship, creating positive feedback loops within communities.
A system of restoration camping creates new resource flows, connects people to each other in place, and focuses on learning by doing the work of restoration with landowners. It is not proposed as the end point, but rather as a mechanism for efficiently moving the discussion about ecosystem stewardship back into local communities.
How Does Restoration Camping Work?
Restoration Camping is a evolving strategy to practice working and living together tending ecosystem, where we can be temporarily removed from our accustomed way of life, and work together:
Citizens who want to directly restore ecosystems join the Cascadia Restoration Guild, which includes a diverse network of professionals, complemented by sympathetic citizens and community leaders.
A local teams work with the Guild to develop a basecamp in collaboration with a government private or land trust host, to serve as a base for community engagement, stewardship and restoration, vegetation management, planning, and cross-training. Basecamp development is planned to enhance the ecological function of the site.
Guild members pay dues and go camping where they organize into project teams. Participation is voluntary, and becomes part of professional life, student work-study, internship, or family vacation. Guild members share food costs, and sponsor camping for those that cannot afford it. The Guild is a private club, that operates under a rigorous social contract, and employs camp coordinators.
Design/build teams lead projects to enhance the base camps, restore the surrounding landscape, and build relationships with watershed neighbors. Design teams may bring in additional resources from their home institutions or through grants. Our initial work is to develop base camps to gracefully support the restoration camping lifestyle, and produce the supplies necessary for restoration and camping.
We leverage the value of guild-member's labor and dues to secure public and private grants for capital investments: tools, camping technology, and plant stock. Our continuing seasonal presence makes use of continuous observation, succession and efficient strategies for nudging ecosystems back to abundance and diversity.
Basecamps are a social network where neighbors are invited as guests, to become collaborators and perhaps guild members. Over time, camps serve as a center for development and sharing of practical restoration knowledge. The steady presence of camps, working and eating together, and the opportunity for personal relationships builds trust among allies.
Restoration is leisurely and fun with time for learning, reflection and celebration. Clear roles create a niche for weekend visitors, week-long visitor or seasonal apprentices. At a basecamp, the design and build work creates learning and teaching opportunities, that are enhanced by visiting teachers, peer-to-peer learning, and educational events.
The guild expands over time because restoration camping is full of rich and meaningful experience. As the guild expands, the number of camps increases based on membership and sponsorship. A population of around 500 guild members can support the continuous operation of a camp. As camps and guild membership increases, the number of camps can increase, which increases the rate of recruitment and the potential to establish new camps.
Decision making is shared at an appropriate level, at annual guild gatherings, within watershed networks, at a camp management team, or within a design/build team, to advance opportunities for a life of service.
Eventually there will be networks of camps across Cascadia with opportunities for camp-to-camp learning, and rich and protracted apprenticeship. Restoration base camps and their teams augment and build our stewardship capacity by building community, a process where government agencies are naturally weak.
Prospectus - Draft for Discussion (link to Google Doc) For more information, contact Paul Cereghino