Agenda for September 11th-17th, 2024 Bioregional Learning Journey

NOTE: This page is currently under construction. For more info about the 2024 Bioregional Learning Journey click HERE.

“For the human species to evolve, the conversation must deepen.”

Anthropologist Margaret Mead

2024 Bioregional Learning Journey

Join us as we embark on a journey through the Casco Bay Bioregion! This will be a six-day adventure with three days of sea kayaking across Casco Bay and three days of biking the watershed. Our goal is to build a much better sense of collective response to coastal ecosystem change in the greater Casco Bay region. Throughout this journey, we’ll have the chance to deepen our sense of place by exploring seagrass meadows, discussing the Indigenous history

Opening Dinner: Osher Map Library

September 11th:

We will have a reception and dinner on Wednesday, September 11th at the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine. You’ll have the opportunity to tour their new exhibit and explore some of the most amazing maps of Casco Bay and the Casco Bay Bioregion. After dinner, Executive Director Professor Libby Bischof will present an inspiring lecture on the many perspectives of Back Cove over the past 400 years!  We will get a good night’s rest and meet the following Morning at 9:00 am.

September 12th-14th, 2024

Join us and learn how to see together to connect and accelerate positive change and become part of a Bioregional Transformation Journey!

September 15th-17th, 2024

Day 4:

September 15th, 2024


Day 5:

September 16th, 2024


Day 6:

September 17th, 2024


Presenters of the Bioregional Data T-Lab (Workshop #1)

A series of remarkable leaders will participate with YOU across the three days learning how to better map seagrass meadows in Casco Bay, Gulf of Maine.

Founder COBALT/Team Zostera

Glenn Page

My focus is on transforming our relationship with our biosphere, to fall back in love with the places of where we live. While stewardship is essential for our life support system, it’s also about healing ourselves by healing our place. For over 40 years, I have been working at the interface of science, policy and practice with teams of interdisciplinary experts, artists, scientists, decision-makers to bring innovation and systems thinking to complex, messy, cross-scale, “wicked” challenges of our time. 

Founder of Byrnes Lab
Assistant Professor, UMass Boston School for the Environment

Jarrett Byrnes

My research focuses on the causes and consequences of complexity in nature. I am interested in how humans alter the diversity and interconnectedness of life on earth. Understanding how these changes alter the services that nature provides is a critical need as we watch ecosystem after ecosystem collapse. I study these questions in the ocean because, let’s face it, the sheer number and diversity of species in the oceans is astounding.

Syslab/Merakí

Juliana Bohórquez

Juliana Bohórquez is a leader in the practice of individual and collective transformation. She will share how social technologies are essential to move from hierarchical and pyramidal, to being much more horizontal and co-creative, and from linear to more extensive and systemic. Researcher and co-author of national education programs with the Educational Alliance for Colombia, she has designed and directed impact processes for SENA, COLCIENCIAS, Governación de Cundinamarca, among other national institutions.

National Geographic Pristine Seas and COBALT/Team Zostera

Jon Betz

Cinematic storytelling is my passion. As a cinematographer and Dive Safety Officer for COBALT/Team Zostera I have broad experience across diverse areas of how to better visualize seagrass meadows in Casco Bay. I work as both a cinematographer and field producer, with experience in story development, pitching, pre-production, logistics and editing. My work has been featured by National Geographic, Smithsonian, Discovery, and Animal Planet among others.

PhD Student, Byrnes Lab UMass Boston

Alexis Wilkes

I’m a first-year PhD student in the Byrnes Lab. Prior to joining the Byrnes Lab. My previous work with Dr. Laura Dee looked at how the robustness of rocky intertidal food webs and their ecosystem services to species loss differs between a climate change-induced species loss sequence and other more common loss sequences. I am exploring how climate change is impacting marine communities using remote sensing and modeling.

Passamaquoddy Language Keeper

Dwayne Tomah

Dwayne Tomah is a teacher of the Passamaquoddy language and culture. He is the youngest fluent speaker of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and has served on the Tribal Council. He has worked with Animal Planet on a segment called Winged Creatures, highlighting the history of the Thunderbird. His life has been dedicated to working on the language and culture preservation, he edited the Passamaquoddy dictionary and shares Native legends through song and dance.

Some Reflections on the first Casco Bay Bioregional T-Lab/ Workshop #1 January 10-12, 2024

Who attended?

While we do this work in appreciation of the many thousands of people who are working on innovations, this event featured 25 people to build connections and develop deeper relationships across a wide range of expertise and grow through the power of networks and relationships. There were many different sectors and disciplines represented including many who have been contributing to the COBALT/Team Zostera Working Groups and have been invited to serve as advisors and contributors representing diverse perspectives.

DIVERSITY:  For an effective bioregional T-Lab/Workshop, we begin with a diversity of perspectives, professions, ages, ethnicities, disciplines, and sectors. The power of a convening such as this is to learn how to see through the eyes of another and that is best accomplished through diversity – so join us for future workshops and bring your perspective but be prepared to learn how to see through the eyes of others!

Why Now?

Many agree that we are in a “global polycrisis” or “meta-crisis.” These terms refers to a time when crises in multiple global systems become entangled in ways that affect human life support, and significantly degrade our prospects of survival. We are all aware that the risks to humanity are profound, spreading in unimaginable ways. In 2021, a Nobel Prize Summit was convened called Our Planet, Our Future and the authors describe this time in the state of the planet as “a critical juncture for humanity.” They emphasize the importance of social innovations at a bioregional scale that align with windows of opportunity to unlock broader levels of change within a governance system.

At local scale, the Casco Bay National Estuary Partnership describes Casco Bay as remarkably healthy compared to many other U.S. estuaries yet warns of a series of major changes “underway that warrant a timely response to protect the Bay and the many people whose livelihoods and quality of life depend upon it.” The Maine Monitor recently reported that “More than 34,000 people moved to Maine during the pandemic…vast majority came from elsewhere in the United States, although the Maine also took in nearly 3,500 international migrants, including many fleeing conflicts in Ukraine and countries in Africa.” Our social and ecological systems are changing rapidly, yet our dominant worldview remains (world as machine, need for separation and fragmentation, problems as simple and linear, the primacy of of top-down command and control, maximizing self interest and prioritizing consumerism). These dominant paradigms frame our our goals and what we do as a society.

We believe simple but profound questions related to how we see, conserve and restore our ecological systems (such as seagrass meadows) are needed to help navigate into this uncertain future. These questions begin with a focus on the places where we are living and how we are living within them. This work is about building an understanding of both the deeper sense of seagrass meadow health and emerging alternatives through engaging with purpose, potential and calling.

What is a T-Lab?

We are building various expressions of a Bioregional Transformation Lab or “T-Lab” which is a concept developed by our colleagues at the Stockholm Resilience Centre and others around the world. T-Labs are intended to be “safe spaces” to discuss questions deeply and if possible to launch innovations that may help to address deep challenges with no clear solutions, no silver bullets. The “magic” is based upon the people who are engaging in the many different expressions of COBALT T-Labs, people who are doing real change work. So these events focus on engaging with the catalysts of transformative change. This begins with inviting people who are willing to spend time to get to know one another, willing to work with new languages and ideas, willing to appreciate and try new practices and willing to be part of something that is not tied to any one organization but appreciates the contributions of the whole.

As noted, a major goal is learning how we better “see/sense” the systems we are living within. This includes both the social and the natural/ecological dynamics. This is why we are calling the series of three workshops “Building a Bioregional Data Lab.” This work requires a sense of history (indigenous and colonial), as well as the implications of decisions made over the past 400 years that have led to where we are.  

Going even deeper – our Bioregional T-Lab explores the amazing life associated with our coastal ecosystems that include salt marshes, seagrasses and seaweeds and the power of life and immense value to society that they support.  For systems, we mean seeing into our local food/fiber systems, seeing the systems and innovations around food waste, water infrastructure and waste water treatment, energy, tourism, etc.  No small task.  The “data revolution” and “internet of things” has made all of this suddenly possible so we are creating the Bioregional T-Lab to build the wolds first Bioregional Digital Twin to better learn how to navigate the poly-crisis ahead.

What are the likely outcomes for future Bioregional Data Labs?

Every bioregion has the potential to define its unique sense of character and cohesion, which then nourishes those who live there and entices and enriches guests, and attracts supportive investments. From this “fertile ground,” new, creative projects continuously emerge. Like plants in regenerated soil, individual enterprises prosper. We believe creating a Bioregional Data T-Lab is an essential step to better see, connect and amplify transformative change where communities discover that more becomes possible when seeing together, in a continuous unfolding of learning, healing, vitality and potential. We believe this foundation is essential for communities to develop the kind of adaptation and resilience to withstand future shocks and disruptions. This begins with a deeper sense of place, and we will start by learning how to map seagrass meadows in Casco Bay, Gulf of Maine.


TESTIMONIALS

The following testimonials are from participants of recent COBALT events.

Too often we are meeting with the same people. COBALT and COBALT Global Lead, Glenn Page have brought together an entirely new group of stakeholders. Everyone in the group was committed, experienced, and engaged, and importantly, they are from disciplines or sectors that don’t normally come together to talk. This allows for discussion about these issues in a way where we can share ideas and learnings and allows for synchronizing efforts.

Peter Handy

CEO, Bristol Seafood, Certified B-Corp

“Transformation always starts small and from within… in the Gulf of Maine, people and organizations are collaboratively exploring the creative frontiers of an emerging future – an inspirational learning experience not to be missed. The Learning Journey is a fantastic way to see the specifics of how people and companies are trying to change the world.

Steven Lovink

Founder of the Planet2025 Network, France

“For anyone who feels change is needed in a big way, this learning journey will help you explore how that can be realized with stimulating conversations grounded in people’s practical, day-to-day work and helpful frameworks for connecting it to the big picture.”

Steve Waddell

Author, Change for the Audacious Global Lead: Bounce Beyond
Boston, MA

“The entire itinerary was so diverse. Ideal for the curious and mindful explorer, the Learning Journey in the Gulf of Maine shares and engages – how individual and communal efforts can have transformative impact. This is an experience of a lifetime, if you want to make a difference!”

Martha Holder

Former staff, World Bank
Tall Timbers Maryland

Join us for Workshop #1

Building a Bioregional Data Lab

January 10-12, 2024

The most effective learning journeys begin with good questions, some of which are unanswerable in the short term and lead to better questions.  Often we end up with far more questions than answers! If we are truly successful, this may even feature “unlearning” of what we thought we knew about ourselves and our place in this world. A “Bioregional Data Lab” is about developing community and the practice of living within the ecological limits of a place in a manner that can be further developed by future generations!