In a prior posting, Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map, I discussed the allure and the power of maps to capture our imagination, as well as the snares they present for the unwary. Since then, I have set aside my private consulting business and accepted a position with The Trust For Public Land as Director of The Litchfield Hills Greenprint Project. A critical component of this initiative will be to incorporate community-based data into mapping tools that will galvanize public support and encourage local and regional conservation partners to work toward common goals.
Of course, all the conservation maps in the world are mere tangles of vectors and blobs of pixels if they lack credibility and fail to inspire and guide conservation action. Somehow the Greenprint brand needs to stand out as distinct from other resource maps, and be embraced as relevant to local communities and conservation entities. I suspect that the dynamic qualities of the maps we will produce, all those marvelous buffer layers and wildlife corridors eliding across paper and computer screens, will be more readily grasped and embraced if the underlying layers are static, immediately recognizable as both the Greenprint and its representation of this place. The BRNC Map I have plugged on other occasions has those very qualities, but lacks the upper layers that allow it to be used to set priorities and understand natural and socio-economic processes across the landscape. My hope is that we can take the best features of both kinds of maps and create something that can truly inform conservation action and resonate with the people who live here.
When I was I graduate school, I had a professor who stressed that theory should never been seen as a blueprint, but rather as a guide for adaptive management. The blueprint model of development fails to understand that what works in one context cannot be transferred as a whole to any other situation without reflecting local constraints and resources. Arguably, a contractor should be able to erect the same building from a single set of blueprints in any similar location, but a Greenprint is both process and product and the outcome will likely be quite different from one region to another. The Litchfield Hills Greenprint is an initiative sponsored by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and The Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), and reflects a new kind of partnership for the Greenprint model. Its success will depend on how that partnership enhances its conservation impact , and how it manages the inevitable tensions and distinct organizational identities that are part of all partnerships no matter how effective.
Walking the Berkshires will continue as my personal forum, an unapologetic and eclectic weaving of human narratives with the natural landscape of the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills, but I suspect I'll start cross-posting with a new Litchfield Greenprint blog in the coming months.