All this boundary breaking requires some R&R

My desk is strewn with no fewer than five folders concerning as many different projects. I’m not noticing them as I email and take calls. But, for a moment, I glance down at the paper melee and am struck with how intrinsically interesting I find all of it. I am a watershed planner at HRWC — have been for 12 years –and I am never bored with the breadth and depth of my projects and the work the staff does for the Huron River and its constituents whether webbed, finned or bipedal.

Maybe Maria Carmen Lemos tapped into what I find so stimulating about HRWC and my work, in particular, when she described in a project meeting we had this week the two ways that organizations  (and people, I would add) approach boundaries. Maria Carmen is faculty at the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment, and a co-Principal Investigator on climate change research grants in which I am about to be involved.  Given these credentials, and that she’s infectiously energetic, I trust her depiction that organizations are either “boundary-breakers” or “boundary-producers” and that HRWC is most clearly a boundary-breaker.

That’s it. In one way or another, my projects are breaking boundaries –

  • The team working on finding a better way to locate and fix failing septic systems is breaking boundaries by testing a new detection method that may give Michigan county health departments a more cost-effective option.
  • The one-year stakeholder process I’m leading to create climate resilient communities on a watershed scale will break boundaries by bringing diverse community leaders together to understand the risk management involved with our changing climate in Michigan.

And so it goes with the other projects under my purview. Dynamic. Fulfilling. Demanding.

While HRWC is focused on the watershed boundary, that’s not our sole focus. We have a history of and reputation for breaking boundaries – political, hydrologic, and social – all for the benefit of the river. It’s a good day’s work.