By Daniel Hayden
Every two years the National Coastal and Estuarine Summit occurs and it is a chance to learn new skills, exchange ideas and meet with experts in the field to help us make our projects and communities better. 2020 will be no different as we leverage the power of technology to help bring even more people together.
Interest in the Summit is greater this year than any prior year. Because we are not constrained by be time and space, we are able to host 40 concurrent discussions with live Q&A. Unlike prior Summits you won’t need to choose which session to go to since everything will be taped, and you can view it whenever and wherever you want.
Additionally, we will have more over 350 speakers and posters. This Spring we were flooded with insightful proposals on topics ranging from Island Restoration to restoring tidal herring runs. We will be recording these presentations and enable them to be on demand for all registrants, and next year releases to the public. This not only allows you to have great access to the content, but allows the insight from these speakers to be available online.
Our first step will be to celebrate where we had hoped to be – Rhode Island. We will have presentations from John Brown of the Narragansett tribe, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, Janet Coit Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. We’ll have some energizers by celebrity chef Chef Al Forno – Learn to Cook RI Favorites and a demonstration by local painter Eric Lutes celebrating the Narragansett through art.
Like so many years, the Summit is attracting top-tier speakers. In addition, to looking at the science of the estuary and coastal restoration we are also taking some time to look at the social context of our work, and how to engage in the election.
As we all reflect on how our work can better incorporate our diverse communities, there will be dedicated sessions on the role of diversity, equity and inclusion. We will continue our partnership with the Avarna Group who will lead a session Enhancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Coastal Sector. We will also have a session lead by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gulluh/Geechee Nation. A presentation by MacArthur Fellow and Peabody Award winning broadcaster Majora Carter will talk about Community as Corporation: Talent-Retention in Low Status America.
With elections around the corner, we are hosting two events. The first will be a panel with introductions from members of the Estuary Caucus Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Rick Larsen and then a conversation with Congressional appropriations staff and field representatives on how to improve our advocacy in Congress. Additionally, Ramón Palencia-Calvo from the League of Conservation voters will walk us through their work with LatinX outreach.
What’s a Summit without a bit of fun? We will also be celebrating some big birthdays with both NOAA and the EPA turning 50, the Coastal States Organization turning 50, and the new kid Restore America’s Estuaries turning 25. We will look back at the progress of coastal restoration and discuss ways to move things forward.
I encourage you to block your calendars from September 30 to October 1 and immerse yourself in the Summit. Click here to register.
Daniel Hayden is the President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. He is based out of Arlington, VA.