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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska
mittees (p. 70) underscores some of the communicative and perceptual challenges confronting program planners and local communities.
The subcommittee would be composed of scientists, resource managers, and other experts selected primarily for disciplinary expertise and familiarity with the broad habitat type (watersheds, intertidal and subtidal, ACC, and offshore). Institutional and professional affiliations would be of interest in selecting members to promote collaboration and cooperation.
The essence of the problem here is that the very language that is ostensibly intended to invite community participation is instead likely to be interpreted as repelling community participation.
In summary, the committee recommends that community involvement be designed throughout the GEM program in a manner that promotes meaningful involvement and provides for flexibility into the future as the GEM program evolves. Approaching community involvement in the fashion recommended by the committee should be regarded as a work in progress, because building the necessary relationships and developing a process that works will take time (see Box 5–1). In many respects the GEM program will be breaking new ground in integrating community involvement into a long-term science plan. As one step in rethinking its commitment to community involvement, the Trustee Council should review community outreach programs designed by the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council, which have been successfully used in communities and native villages affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill (<www.pwsrcac.org>). This may provide direction for designing activities that promote substantive participation and involvement of local residents in all phases of the GEM program.
The committee is under no illusion that successful incorporation of community involvement and traditional knowledge in the GEM program will be easy. It will take more than just the inclusion of the words “community involvement” and “traditional knowledge” in program planning documents. It will require the engagement of planners, administrators, and researchers representing the scientific community with relevant experts and literature regarding participatory research and traditional knowledge, and most of all, with residents of local communities on shared terms. It will require the local communities to recognize that the GEM program will not address all their needs and aspirations. Nonetheless, the opportunity to develop community participation in the GEM science program will benefit all parties involved and should be seriously pursued by the Trustee Council.