Translating resource-speak

My heart sinks when I get a news release and it’s initially tough to figure out what the heck it’s about.

Here’s the headline to a release I got today:  Collaboration and Facilitation in Natural Resource Management

 Yikes. Long words. All either abstract concepts or very general. “Natural resource” can refer to everything from the Amazon River to an actress who doesn’t wear makeup. And, one of the primary sins of such news releases, nothing in the headline indicates who this is for. Could be for moms and dads debating how much water (a natural resource) to put on the lawn.

So I pray for wisdom and divine guidance. I start reading into the body of the news release. It says: “The Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project’s (SNAMP) University of California Cooperative Extension team will be hosting a workshop on Collaboration and Facilitation in Natural Resource Management on March 26, 2014 in Martell/Jackson, CA.”

Aha, I think. I know who these people are. This might be about not burning the forest down. This could be about getting the feds, who manage a lot of forests around here, to play nice with private property owners, who also own and manage a lot of forests. Maybe environmentalists will even be invited.

My suspicions are confirmed when I read low in the release that Sue Britting, executive director for Sierra Forest Legacy, is guest speaker for the workshop.

There’s a lot of other long words and round-about statements in the press release. It says things about the need to “build a common language to support collaboration,” and to “demonstrate interventions to support success when problems arise.

Why can’t it just say that the feds, the loggers, and environmentalists aren’t getting along well. Because they fight, they miss chances to make things better. To make things better, people have to play fair and understand each other. Somehow, science has to win over prejudice. The forests are burning down and we are not doing enough to stop it. If we use a lot of three-syllable words, we’ll still be talking when the last giant sequoia is incinerated.

Whew. I feel better now.

If you want to go to this workshop, register online at or contact Kim Ingram at 

You can also check the workshop web page at

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