Panel aims for consensus on Juneau tourism

Collaboration Juneau says specific issues have yet to be determined

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2003

Juneau residents from all segments of the population are expected to gather Wednesday night to discuss the problems that exist between the tourism industry and private individuals.

The specific issues have yet to be determined.

"First we have to define the problem," said Paula Terrel, co-chairperson of the board of directors of Collaboration Juneau, the newly formed nonprofit group that is organizing the meeting.

"It may seem really elementary, but sometimes defining the problem is really at the crux of things," she said. "I've learned that it's not as easy as it sounds."

Collaboration Juneau will be a year-long project with the goal of creating a common vision of what role the tourism industry should have in the Juneau community, said Stephen McCormick, a facilitator from Oregon who will oversee the group with business partner David Chrislip of Colorado.

The Juneau Assembly provided $46,000 in initial funding for the project. The group hopes to raise an additional $15,000 from the private sector to help fund the effort, Terrel said.

Members of the collaboration will choose which issues to address, then will research those issues and present the Assembly a consensus decision on what should be done.

"A collaboration is really designed to bring all parties around an issue together," said Chrislip. "It's inclusive. It's got the usual voices and it's got unusual voices; it's got a wide variety of experiences and ideas."

Terrel and Jamie Parsons, past executive director of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, assembled the initial board members of Collaboration Juneau in July.

The board includes members of the tourism industry, private citizens and employees of nonprofit agencies.

"My impetus behind it was wanting to find something where the community would truly have a voice at the outset, and in the planning stages, not just relying on community planners and the Assembly and private industry coming up with the plans and deciding how they're going to be implemented," said board member Mala Reges.

Reges is a lawyer who is active in mediation and has a background in collaborative decision-making, she said. Though one of her main interests is resolving the flightseeing noise issue, she sees the more important mission of the collaboration being to develop a community-wide goal for tourism.

David Stone, a vice president with AEL&P and candidate for the Assembly, joined the collaboration effort at the request of Parsons.

"I was intrigued with the idea," Stone said. "I had heard about the collaborative process, and they wanted some business types."

Though he was initially skeptical of the process, he now believes it might be successful.

"The people that are on the steering committee, some of those people I didn't know very well but I've become quite impressed with them," he said. "They're all keenly interested in finding solutions."

The 10 initial board members of Collaboration Juneau have developed a list of 200 Juneau residents who they thought would be interested in participating, said Terrel.

Those residents were sent letters of invitation to Wednesday's meeting, which will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at Centennial Hall. All Juneau residents are welcome to attend, said Terrel.

Regardless of where the board members work and with what organizations they align themselves, people who attend the meeting on Wednesday should be representing personal views and not those of a larger entity, Terrel said.

"For example, I'm on the board of the Thane Neighborhood Association, but I'm not representing Thane at all," said Terrel, who also fishes commercially and is the proprietor of a bed-and-breakfast.

• Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.



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