The focus of the first Midwest Urban Conservation Workshop was to understand the challenges stakeholders are facing, define the needs for collaboration and best management practices, establish a platform for conversation focusing on learning from each other and creating an opportunity for collaboration on new initiatives through a collective impact. The workshop was framed around the idea of making a collective impact, as what happens upstream directly affects what happens downstream. Over 40 participants included scientists, urban planners, and state, federal, private and nonprofit organizations with interests in creating a network of professionals interested in the value of our waterways. We envision a world where humans, wildlife, and native ecosystems in the Midwest are coexisting in healthy vibrant urbanized areas. The mission of the workshop is to share experiences, technical knowledge, and successful approaches to urban conservation – a true networking opportunity with other officials from cities and towns, NGOs, and researchers committed to urban conservation. This will increase the capacity for organizations, the public and decision makers to engage in responsible, creative, collective-impact-focused solutions and build upon already existing urban conservation efforts. At the workshop the afternoon session on April 30th was dedicated to brainstorming how a group of professionals within urban conservation can work towards creating a network where we can make more of an impact based on the five elements of Collective Impact. All of these ideas were then synthesized and discussed in a smaller group of participants at the Workshop on May 1st, and there was an agreed upon need to create a collective impact focused on reconnecting/integrating people and nature in Midwestern cities, their surrounding working landscapes, and natural areas. At the end of the workshop we were left with a vision, goals, functions we do as a community and lastly next steps. These next steps included the narrowing down of themes (formally referred to as focal areas) within urban conservation, creation of online platform for idea sharing, and outreach to more professionals. More information about background information on the Workshop and the next steps in the creation of EPIC can be found online.
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