Saturday, May 2, 2009

On Operating Plans and the USFS

There are a couple of important lessons I learned from the way the operating plan movie played out in Arkansas in 2007 and in Wyoming in 2008, so I'll share them.

In Arkansas 2007, the USFS wrote an operating plan, gave it to one gathering participant, who said it was fine. From that point on, the USFS considered it set and stone and refused to make any changes. Other gathering participants were unable to obtain copies of said operating plan for quite some time - maybe until June 27 or 28?? I don't remember exactly.

However, we did circle with the USFS daily at the cooperations space adjacent to Info and immediately following kitchen council. This arrangement worked out well for a couple of reasons. Focalizers from various kitchens came for the kitchen council and stayed for the USFS circle. They were then able to share diverse opinions on various topics, take information back to their kitchens and camps, and share it.

In Wyoming 2008, the first day of the operating plan discussion started on a bad foot. First, the date we were given by a USFS employee was the wrong date. So after people spending an entire day walking the gathering and sharing the date, time and location of the first USFS circle on this issue, the USFS weren't there that day - although we had a great turnout.

The USFS picked the location of the ongoing discussions and refused to alter it despite many discussions and requests to relocate to a spot adjacent to INFO. Unfortunately, the location picked by the USFS was at Welcome Home. The first circle with the USFS was well attended, but as time went on, fewer and fewer people were willing to hike from the gathering to welcome home. I suck at estimating mileage, but I'm guessing 1.5 miles of tough hiking to get down there from Main Meadow. So when you add in discussion time, the entire extravaganza sucked up 5 or 6 hours every time it happened.

The final version of the operating plan typed up by the USFS did not contain all the agreed to changes because the USFS employee doing the typing got busy and didn't have time to make changes. So the printed version that was circulating contained a number of items that both gathering participants and the USFS had agreed would be changed, but were not. (We probably should have taken on the typing and printing responsibilities ourselves and given copies to the USFS - perhaps we could do that this year?)

Additionally, a couple of the people (myself included) who had taken the time to make every one of these discussions were given mandatory court appearance tickets for the usual BU||$h|+ for July 1, the first day of Main Council on the land and so were in town dealing with kangaroo court. This meant that no one who had been part of the entire process brought the printed version to main council. A runner did let Main Council know copies were available at Info if they choose to deal with it.

All this being said, I think for the most part, the agreed to items (as opposed to the typed up items), were mostly in accordance with what many or most gatherers felt to be workable.

So my 2 cents on New Mexico is to make sure the operating plan is worked on in an open circle/council/counsel at a centrally located part of the gathering and hopefully adjacent to kitchen council (which seems to have been happening at 11 AM last few gatherings at least). Then we type up the changes ourselves, handle the printing and copying, and let the USFS request edits to our document.

~~Peace out family.

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