John Titre is in his third year as the Recreation Staff Officer on the Nogales District, Coronado National Forest in SW Arizona. He manages 350,000 acres that includes two wilderness areas, a lake, and an international bird sanctuary with opportunities for engaging partners in restoration and collaboration under the umbrella of adaptive co-management and resilience thinking. He uses two primary tools to engage people: Sensing and Asset-Based Community Development. Both tools strengthen and deepen our relationship with communities.
Sensing involves talking to people prior to more formal venues like public workshops. Instead of using specific questions, typical of surveys, a one-page guide with key words is used to direct the conversation. Themes and issues emerge that can be shared at a public workshop to create sideboards for a more focused and meaningful dialogue. The aim is to select a small, diverse sample of about 21 people. Analysis is done after about seven people and adjustments are made to the words and the sample. The soundbite for this tool is that: “It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong” as compared to expensive large-sample surveys.
Asset-Based Community Development starts out as a brainstorming exercise to verbally elaborate and list ideas that really work and contribute to community identity. It engages individuals in a dialogue around what is working and away from polarizing issues. It describes the best of who we are and what we are known for at some place-based or interest level. Asset mapping creates a list of ideas and is followed by a systems diagram to show connections and reveal more that might have been overlooked. This results in the discovery of new ways to visualize “what might be” as the community builds a narrative around connections and relationships. Communities can elect how and when to act on short and long-term initiatives that may have been overlooked using traditional problem-solving approaches.
John’s prior work with the Forest Service included three years as a forest planner on the Gila National Forest and three years as a social scientist conducting public workshops and applying organizational learning concepts. Prior to the Forest Service, he worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers for 15 years doing research and providing technical assistance nationally in the areas of boating capacity and customer satisfaction. As a consultant, he developed an approach to FERC re-licensing using place attachment to water as a basis for assigning responsibility for future operational costs on federal lands. He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Colombia and assists with training courses in Latin America.
He received his BS from Southern Illinois University in recreation and natural resource management, an MS from Texas A&M University and did post graduate work at Clemson University.
District Staff Officer
Wilderness, Trails, Recreation, Lands & Special Uses
Coronado National Forest, AZ