Here is an interesting read from the Delta Dialogues as they produced a 32-page document regarding the Delta. The goal was to develop trust and shared understanding as a mechanism to move forward on water issues facing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Journalist, Joe Mathews, recounts the tale of how the Delta Dialogues came about, presenting a compelling, no-holds-barred account of what happened throughout this process, its successes and failures, and the impact it had on its participants.
Check out the Phase 1 report of the Delta Dialogues online.
Here is the Forward Below
For six months in 2012, a small group of Delta stakeholders achieved what many considered improbable: They talked openly and honestly with each other about their interests, hopes, and concerns regarding the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta.
At times emotional and heated, the conversations stayed focused on interests, not positions, and on the goal of developing shared understanding of the issues, not persuasion. The stakeholders involved—many of them with decades in the public water policy arena—characterized these conversations as unprecedented, yet vital, for California’s future.
The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is at the heart of California’s water conflicts. Leaders have battled over the priority of where water should flow, following a pattern of win-lose politics for control of this natural resource.
The problem is that no one is winning, and California is on the brink of losing one of the most unique regions on the west coast of America.
To get past the gridlock, the Delta Conservancy hosted the “Delta Dialogues,” a six-month pilot project to develop shared understanding among the Delta stakeholders most impacted by water policy decisions. See page 3 for the complete list of participants.
Developing shared understanding is simple, but not easy. It requires the ability to listen attentively to others about issues that are emotional triggers. It requires the ability to move back and forth between a high-level picture and a narrower, complex perspective. Most of all, it requires a lot of time. When the stakes are high, it’s natural to try to take shortcuts. However, when the problems are as wicked as the Delta’s are, developing shared understanding isn’t just a nicety, it’s a necessity. Shared understanding is a prerequisite for trust, which is a prerequisite for cooperation, which is prerequisite for taking action. Right now, there’s not a lot of trust in the Delta.
With the continuation of the “Delta Dialogues,” we have every hope that trust can be rebuilt and that agreement on what needs to happen can be reached.
It was an honor and a privilege for us to be part of such an innovative approach to the Delta’s issues. We look forward to the next chapter.
— Campbell Ingram and Nancy Ullrey,
Delta Conservancy, February 2013