So, I have had two workshops so far – one in Santa Barbara and one in Morro Bay, both with fishermen and about their perception of offshore aquaculture and how it would affect their industry.
I had originally planned on nothing more – really – I had planned on only concentrating on Santa Barbara. However, as the year progressed and I became more in tune with the other reserachers here at Bren, I was fortunate enough to be included in a research proposal on the topic of offshore aquaculture and conflict and marine spatial planning. With that, they wanted more interviews, and given that my time here is limited, I have to have them done before I leave – which means in the next two-three weeks!
So this week, I am probably having a workshop with Ventura fishermen on Thursday afternoon, Scientists from Bren and MSI on Friday morning, and next week I have a workshop with Environmental Organization representatives on Friday June 1st, and on June 8th I have my last workshop, with fishermen from San Diego. I am SO happy! This is perfect – I will have done 6 workshops, with fishermen from four different areas in Southern California and with two other salient stakeholder groups – the Enviros and the Scientists! I could not have remotely hoped for more than this – this is beyond anything I ever expected.
But let me tell you about workshops… they are lots of work, and you are mentally drained after them! Here are tips:
1) bring food and drink, at least fruit, chips and sodas/water. You need to keep the interviewees alert and intrested and food breaks actually helps. I know this because I have done one without and one with so far – and never again will I not bring food!
2) Be very courteous and polite and understand that none of these stakeholders NEED to do anything you ask them – all of them are sharing THEIR precious time for your benefit! Love them for it! Appreciate it deeply!
3) Start preparations early – the workshops take 2-4 hours – you want to make sure you give those you invite lots of time to see if they can make it and pencil you in!
4) If you are doing workshops with fishermen, who work almost all the time and seldom have time off, go through their organizations, and take your time getting to know them. They need to know they can trust you and that their time is well spent with you on their time off. Also, meet them in their area, and not in a remote place. The interviews I have had so far with fishermen have been in meeting rooms at the harbor.
5) If you are doing workshops with scientists or environmental organizations or government represenatives etc, you should book a room first, at least two weeks in advance, and then invite as many as possible. Most will not read the mail you send. Of those that read it, most will not have time. Solution: Door to door! It is easier to accept an invitation to a workshop face to face.
6) Use any connections you have – it is almost impossible to find all these stakeholders on your own, get them to trust you, and to spend their time with you so that you can do your research. Give them references. Ask friends for help! The one person who actually got my research here in Santa Barbara going was the mother of my pre-school daughters best friend. I was stuck and did not know how to find fishermen willing to talk to me. She called one of her oldest friends who worked at the harbor, and I had a meeting with him the following day – and two weeks later, I had my first workshop! This was not an academic contact – it was a social contact!
And let me know if you want to learn more! It is the most rewarding reserach I have ever done, these workshops. I have met so many fantastic people, learned so much, and been rewarded with fantastic models and scenarios that I could never have obtained otherwise! I am eternally grateful!