Gibson Makes Case for Grassroots Collaboration
People are motivated to make a difference where they live and they’re likely to share that motivation with others who are physically close to them. In his new book, VWC Professor of Political Science William Gibson speaks to the power of local grassroots efforts to address water quality issues and conservation strategies for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Case for Grassroots Collaboration: Social Capital and Ecosystem Restoration at the Local Level (November 2013, Lexington Books) is co-authored by Gibson, Old Dominion University public administration professors John Charles Morris and William Marshall Leavitt, and Shana Campbell Jones, an environmental lawyer and director of the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic at William & Mary Law School. The book focuses on the successes of smaller environmental groups versus large-scale governmental institutions, presenting the stories of three Hampton Roads-based organizations: the Elizabeth River Project, Lynnhaven River NOW and the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance. Gibson has a personal interest in the project, as his involvement in environmental change spans more than 40 years. “Four people met around a kitchen table in 1991 and gave birth to the Elizabeth River Project,” he says. “The oldest of the non-profits in our book and the grassroots environmental collaborative that is by and large the Environmental Protection Agency’s poster child on how to do it right. That meeting took place in my house in Virginia Beach.” Gibson helped develop the field of alternative environmental dispute resolution in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as to implement mediation to resolve intergovernmental disputes. He has worked with grassroots organizations to develop models for controlling and managing natural resources and is researching the problems local communities face in maintaining local control under the current framework of global economic rules. For more information, visit watershedrestorationhr.org.