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  • Titled "California Party," it's an image of a watercolor by artist Roger Folk (used with his permission). It and twenty wonderful others of his, all scenes of nature, can be ordered by emailing Roger Folk at [email protected]. They are 3 in. x 18 in., free of the low resolution of the above image, and priced at $17.50 + $4 shipping.

The Friend You've Been Waiting For

  • The friend you've been waiting for has also been waiting for you. Meet each other at your local animal shelter.

Who runs this blog?

  • The Saunterer. That's me, H. Charles Romesburg, Professor in the Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University. As part of my research I saunter through the writings of especially creative people, keeping an eye open for insightful ideas on subjects that are joined with great goodness and creativity. I will in this blog present ideas from the writings of more than three hundred of these creators: painters, scientists, mathematicians, entrepreneurs, writers, poets, naturalists, actors, rock climbers and more. Among the subjects that will be covered: How workers in most every vocation and avocation can work as artists do, creating use, beauty, or both, of rare note. How regularly experiencing wild nature makes us better creators. How it is that the more all forms of life come to be revered, the more creative society will be. For some of the other subjects that will be covered, click on cnr.usu.edu/romesburg

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November 16, 2005


Thanks Charles,

I got my dose of Strauss and Howe from THE FOURTH TURNING (thanks Mark Rasmussen for the tip some time back). Wonderful reasoning therein, and no doubt also in GENERATIONS.

My work with government planners (federal and local), and my ever-increasing disgust for comprehensive, rational planning led me to the study of "scenario planning" as a means to practice and advocate for "watchful waiting."

With scenario planning we simply rehash the past, and rehearse the future. We leave open options for day-to-day decision making, recognizing that the future is important and different not only from the past, but also from what we may expect the future to be. In short scenario planning teaches us to "expect to be surprised," as adaptive management practitioners advise.

Scenario planning also leaves open the door to plan for, and implement protections for that which we know to be endangered, should we be wise enough to know "endangerment" when we see it and wise enough to know what actions to take. It also leaves open the door to adjust and amend our plans and decisions as needed. It also leaves open the door not to take action just yet, but to watch and wait when we think that to be an appropriate tactic.

Hello Charles,

Watchful waiting may accepted by the medical profession because most practitioncers have a healthy respect for their own limitations. Watching enough treatments fail, despite the best of efforts, would seem to teach that lesson well. Maybe environmental planners have not had to face the consequences of failure enough to develop the same level of humility.

I don't advocate the practice, but it may be worth mentioning that environmental planners generally do not have to fear being sued for malpractice after the results of their decisions become apparent. The link between accountability and authority is much weaker for environmental planners than it is for medical professionals. Are there any options for strengthening this link?

One more thought about watchful waiting. Some cultures accept the strategy much more readily than does our own. One of my Native American friends recently reminded me that when one is uncertain about the correct path to follow he should wait until the Creator speaks to him in his dreams. Then, he will know what to do. In the meantime there is no rush to make a decision simply to seem "on top of things." Quiet reflection is all that is required.

My own worldview allows me to believe in the value of watchful waiting, but I find that belief constantly at odds with professional training and the dominant culture of which I am part. In America we admire the action hero. Is there also room in our culture for the sage on the hilltop?

I appreciate the chance to express some thoughts.

The analogy makes me nervous. I nearly expired last Spring because of my doctor's bias toward watchful waiting. Turns out I had big trouble brewing inside and it was only my wife's insistence on active intervention that led to the life-saving diagnosis.

The problem with watchful waiting in natural resources is that it can too easily become an excuse for doing nothing.

We've been doing something (e.g. fire control, living in wild settings, managing predators, feeding elk, building dams, etc.) for so long that doing nothing may no longer be a viable option.

One thing that I learned from Strauss and Howe is not to lay too much blame on past generations. They made decisions that seemed right at the time, under the circumstances and values of the time. We can only hope that future generations will cut us some slack as well.

panda and gorilla and a multitude of species are in danger of being swept away.They should be respected by us. keep them out of danger.

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Books by H. Charles Romesburg

  • H. Charles Romesburg: The Life of the Creative Spirit

    H. Charles Romesburg: The Life of the Creative Spirit
    Practically all of the quotations in this blog's posts are collected in "The Life of the Creative Spirit."

  • H. Charles Romesburg: How About It, Writer?

    H. Charles Romesburg: How About It, Writer?
    Based on a study of more than 12,000 essays from the very best literary magazines, this book provides writers with lists of thousands of classic forms of opening sentences, titles, transition sentences, ways of saying "for example," and ways of closing nonfiction pieces. When you are writing an essay and want a hint for a better or fresh way of saying what you mean, looking through the lists acts on the imagination, stimulating your creativity. From Lulu Press (ISBN 1-4116-2862-4, 194 pp., softback), it's $16.95 when ordered from Lulu.com/Romesburg , and $22.95 from bookstores. To view its cover, click on www.cnr.usu.edu/romesburg/how_about_it_writer.htm To view its title page, contents, and first two chapters, click on: www.cnr.usu.edu/romesburg/how_about_it_writer_preview.pdf

  • H Charles Romesburg: Best Research Practices

    H Charles Romesburg: Best Research Practices
    The Saunterer’s new book (2009), Best Research Practices explains how to plan and carry out reliable experiments, how to conceive and circumstantially support research hypotheses, how to test research hypotheses with the hypothetico-deductive method, how to discover cause and effect, and more. It’s based on his examination of 5,000 top scientific articles, studying the methods used to produce reliable knowledge. Preview it on-line by going to the following link: http://print.google.com/print?isbn=9780557017836

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