Regional Collaboration Stewardship Across Boundaries
During the past few years, people from many walks of life have experimented with a variety of regional approaches to land-use, natural resource, and environmental issues. Although there is no single model or approach to regional collaboration, nine overarching principles have emerged to help people think and act regionally. These principles should be adapted to the unique circumstances of each place or region.
These principles suggest that most regional efforts move through four common stages (see chart below). During the diagnostic stage, the goal is to determine the need for regional collaboration. This step is critical but often overlooked. Regional collaboration is not a panacea—it is not appropriate in all situations. The best way to ensure that regional collaboration is appropriately and effectively used is to take time to consider whether and how to apply it to a particular situation.
In the design stage, the intent is to match the process to the situation, once again reminding us that there is no single model of regional collaboration. During the take action stage, the goal is to formulate and implement actions. Finally, in the evaluate stage, the idea is to learn from the actions taken, and to adapt the regional vision and strategy based on new ideas, information, and people.
These four common stages—which begin to explain how the principles of regional collaboration can be put into action—should not be viewed as a rigid, mechanical process. On the contrary, the four stages provide a general roadmap for how to conduct regional collaboration. While the cycle progresses naturally from diagnose to design to take action to evaluate, in reality there are feedback loops at every stage of the process.
Also, regional collaboration may be iterative in some cases. In other words, people may be motivated to address a particular issue and then disband. In other situations, people may be compelled to build on their success and move forward to address other regional problems and opportunities. Regional collaboration is an adaptive, rather than linear, method of identifying and addressing regional challenges and opportunities.