Forum to Focus on Scenario Planning for a Delmarva Conservation Corridor
Chestertown, MD, March 7, 2003 — Washington College will sponsor and host its first Alternatives Futures Weekend Forum titled “CHOOSING FUTURE LANDSCAPES FOR THE DELMARVA PENINSULA: THE ROLE OF A CONSERVATION CORRIDOR,” Friday and Saturday, April 4-5, 2003, on its campus in Chestertown. Delmarva farmers, environmentalists, business people, community planners and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend the weekend forums, on one or both days, and participate in a scenario planning process to examine land use alternatives for the region that can help preserve its unique character, environment and sense of place.
Registration is required to participate. Interested individuals and organizations can learn more about the Alternative Futures Weekend, and complete the online questionnaire and registration form, by visiting http://ces.washcoll.edu.
As a result of an initiative led by U. S. Representative Wayne Gilchrest, a provision of the recently enacted federal Farm Bill establishes a demonstration program under which the U.S. Department of Agriculture may approve Conservation Corridor Plans designed and submitted by state and local governments on the Delmarva Peninsula. This program provides an opportunity to improve land conservation on the peninsula while, at the same time, increasing the economic viability and sustainability of agriculture and fostering orderly and responsible development.
Washington College believes that its new Alternative Futures Forum is an appropriate initiative to facilitate the design and planning of a Conservation Corridor. “The College's role will be limited to that of a facilitator and host, and will not advocate any particular outcome or means of reaching an outcome,” said Dr. John Toll, President of the College. “Rather, Washington College's role will be to assist concerned and interested citizens of the Delmarva Peninsula in systematically examining alternative futures and the role that a Conservation Corridor can play in achieving a desirable future for the unique environmental and cultural region that we share.”
“There is no doubt that the landscape of the Delmarva Peninsula is changing,” said David Shaw, visiting scholar of environmental studies and project coordinator of the College's Alternatives Futures Forum. “The traditional working landscape of agriculture, forestry and Chesapeake Bay watershed supporting small towns and rural communities is increasingly under pressure from low farm commodity prices and from residential development. The people of the peninsula can influence the future, but only if we carefully consider our alternatives and work together toward reaching and implementing consensus goals for that future.” The Alternative Futures Forum will employ the well-developed scenarios planning technique, explained Shaw, to create “visions” of possible futures for Delmarva.
“Scenarios are powerful ways of mapping out probable pathways to the future, but they are not predictions,” he said. “They are stories of how the future might play out. While scenarios do not predict the future, a well-constructed group of scenarios will contain most, if not all, of the probable aspects of the future and will highlight the key variables that will push the actual future toward or away from elements of the various scenarios.”
Each day of the Alternative Futures Weekend will begin with welcoming remarks and an introduction scenario planning. Then, the participants will divide into three groups to explore separately the consequences of the three scenarios and to consider for each scenario how best to design and to implement a Conservation Corridor to support a vision for the future of the Delmarva Peninsula. At the end of each day all participants will gather to share their results and findings. The scenarios will then be shared with Congressman Gilchrest and other leaders to optimize Federal support for the future development of the Eastern Shore.
For more information and registration information, visit http://ces.washcoll.edu/af, or call Jean Sucharewicz at Washington College's Custom House, 410-810-7161.