Executive Director's Message
The past couple of months have been busy for travel to some pretty interesting conferences. Tracy and I traveled to San Jose to attend the inaugural Citizen Science Association Conference. The meeting brought together over 650 citizen science practitioners for two days of intense, enlightening and stimulating insights and conversations covering topics ranging from tackling grand challenges, research and evaluation, best practices, education and life-long learning to digital opportunities and challenges. 

Research Theme Profile: Linking Landscapes & Communities

Why this is one of our themes

It’s impossible to separate the health of a community from the health of the landscape within which it sits. Yet we try to do just that all the time; community or economic planning happens in one place, environmental conservation in another. However, when we conceive communities in such a way that they are sustainable – truly sustainable – socially and economically, we tend to have communities that are healthy ecologically, as well.
In this program area, Miistakis seeks to understand and promote the links between healthy landscapes and healthy communities. The basis of this research area is sustainability – linking the sustainable health of humans (socially, economically, and physically) with the sustainable health of landscapes. When we throw all of this into a pot and stir, we tend to see things float to the top like ecological infrastructure, resilience-based planning, sense of place, community hub development, walkability, transit-oriented development, landscape connectivity, water management, etc. These concepts don’t fit neatly into only one of environment, economy or society, because they largely exist along the linkages between those realms.
Our work in this research theme area generally includes:
  • Seeking to better understand these linkages,
  • Supporting deliberate planning that integrates landscape and community,
  • Providing information and raising awareness about problems and possibilities, and/or
  • Creating tools to help decision-makers. 
These efforts have led Miistakis to work with community planners, economists, developers, conservation groups, landowners, and a variety of others. Not surprisingly, in this research theme area, we work extensively with municipalities.


Staff Profile: Greg Chernoff's Pick3
With the intent of sharing more about ourselves with our readers, we created a bank of potential staff profile questions. Each staff member gets to pick 3 of these questions to craft their staff profile.

The song that I have stuck in my head right now is...
"Sunlight, Good-Light" by Clinton St John. His 2014 record "The Minor Arkhana" gets my vote for best record of 2014 - certainly in Calgary, maybe beyond! You can listen to it here. Please support your local arts scene!

What are you learning right now? What do you want to learn?
I'm learning how to use the extremely robust and powerful, free open-source statistical software, R. It's a great program with almost boundless potential (you can even do GIS with it!) that's supported by a very helpful online community.

There's a long list of things I'd like to learn. Here are a few:
I want to learn how to play bass guitar. I have this sense that I might be a natural-born bass player, but I've never even tried to play one. It's probably a lot less annoying to listen to someone learning to play bass than most other instruments. I'd also like to learn some basic programming, maybe in a language like Python. I'd really like to learn how to perform proper wheelies on a bicycle, too! Some people are born with the wheelie gene, the rest of us have to get it the hard way.

Project Updates

Citizen Science 2015 Conference

Danah and I were fortunate to attend the Citizen Science 2015 Conference in San Jose. There were over 600 delegates from 24 countries in attendance and the topics were as diverse. Citizen science is defined as “the engagement of volunteers and professionals in collaborative research to generate new science-based knowledge.”
I got a bit lost in the diversity of different projects, and I realized there are a number of evolving camps falling under the citizen science umbrella and that integration of conversations and thoughts is something we need to foster and nurture.  This makes sense as it is a relatively new interdisciplinary field and experts are coming at it from their different perspectives - maybe you’re a “hard” scientist, a social scientist, an educator or maybe you’re the non-expert or volunteer. 

State of the Beaver 2015

I am still reflecting on all of the ideas that I was exposed to at the State of the Beaver 2015 conference.  In fact, many of my conversations of late start off with “I learned something fascinating at a conference I recently attended…” The conference was held on February 18-20th in Canyonville, Oregon. It was hosted and organized by the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership. Conference participants hailed from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Norway. The conference speakers were excellent, covering off a diverse range of topics from designing in-stream projects to benefit beaver restoration to the return of beaver to Britain.

A real highlight for me was having the chance to meet a number of people I had interviewed for our soon-to-be-released paper comparing approaches to beaver restoration in a number of jurisdictions in North America. I also met a number of people whose research or projects I have read about previously (a.k.a. the rock stars of the beavers & watershed restoration world). It was a strong reminder of the power of meeting face-to-face with others. Email, phone calls or Skype pale in comparison to making a personal connection in real-time.
- Rachelle Haddock
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