On Thursday, I facilitated the 16th annual Banff National Park plannning forum. 

Even though this was my seventh straight year with the forum, there were a couple of "firsts" involved.  This was the first session following a new approach to the forum, where the format will alternate between an evening-only session (in odd-numbered years) and the full evening-plus-day session (in even-numbered years).  Last year's "Future of the Forum" discussion landed on this approach, and it seems to have been well accepted, with standing room only in the Harkin Hall.  This was also the first planning forum for Melanie Kwong, the new superintendent of Yoho/Kootenay/Lake Louise field unit, and it was great to meet her and to work with her for the first time, as well as working again with Banff field unit superintendent Dave McDonough.

You can see the Year in Review, plus the summaries of past planning fora (!) at this link:


Whenever I facilitate at the planning forum, I am reminded all over again of what the Bow Valley Roundtable process, two decades ago, did for us as a community.  It created a norm of having all viewpoints in the room at once, and a protocol that required listening and responding to points of view that were not your own.  That sounds pretty basic, but we had a bit of a history of "like talking to like" here in the valley, and it broke us out of that.  The planning forum continues the tradition.  There are often points of disagreement, but at least people hear the other sides of a discussion, and find points of agreement where they are available.

It is easy to remain convinced of your point of view if you chat only with like-minded people.  It's healthy for all of us to hear and listen to those whose point of view is different from our own.