Though it is the middle of winter here in the US, 2017 is off to a hot start as tempers flare and ideologies clash. A wise friend recently told me, “This is a time to look squarely at the piece of land that you are responsible for.” She didn’t mean my scruffy little patch of yard in the urban jungle of Seattle, she was encouraging me to think about agency—to think about my true work in the world. I’m taking that advice to heart. I’m doubling down on teaching my kids to be good global citizens, I’m engaging politically in ways I haven’t before, and I’m channeling more energy into work that I believe in. NatCap’s work—using our heads and our hearts to unite people to create a better future for all people and nature—feels more important now than ever before.
One piece of “land” that I’m responsible for is helping to complete our preparations for the annual Natural Capital Symposium at Stanford, March 20-23rd. I love this event because it celebrates science and explores how the best available science can be used to secure a more livable planet. I love it because I’ve watched it grow from 40 or so people squeezed into one classroom to an increasingly global gathering—now 300-plus people from all over the world. I love it because it had its roots in our community sharing lessons, while learning and improving NatCap approaches and tools, through discussion, connection, and above all inspiration. I love it because it is a time when smart, dedicated people gather to figure out how to transform the relationship between people and nature so that both can survive and thrive. I love it because it really feels like a movement.
This year, we’re offering many of the same kinds of things that have been so successful in the past—a great set of plenaries and three “tracks” that allow attendees to learn about how natural capital approaches are making a difference on the ground, to focus on new frontiers in science and applications, and to roll-up their sleeves and do some hands-on exercises to gain practical skills for quantifying, mapping, and valuing nature’s benefits.
But this year, we’ve got some new things in store too. On Tuesday evening, March 21st, all are invited to a social evening in the beautiful Bing Concert Hall on campus. We’ll have drinks and dessert in the atrium, while exploring some gorgeous photographs that help make the connections between people and nature come alive.
We’ll be trying some new things during the day too. One particularly cool session, organized by Jill Schwartz (WWF’s Science Director, Communications), will feature five storytellers who have worked on the front lines of using natural capital paradigms in decision-making. Prior to the session, the storytellers will receive guidance from Jill and storytelling guru Andy Goodman to hone their stories. We all will benefit not only from hearing their stories but also from fresh ideas about how to create and tell our own.
Whether you plan to join us in person or track the goings-on on social media from afar (we’ll be tweeting from @NatCapProject about #NatCap2017 and experimenting with streaming some sessions via Facebook Live), we look forward to welcoming you to the event this year.
Chief Strategy Officer & Lead Scientist