On election night, the COMPASS team gathered together in a sports bar in Snowbird, Utah, where there is scarcely a skiff of snow, for our annual retreat. We’ve spent the week planning next year’s activities, the transition of our beloved Executive Director, and eagerly watching a long-anticipated historic transition. Our exuberant discussions about the future fell silent as we stared at our phones, watched the returns on the big screen, tracked the predictive Nate Silver, and slipped outside under a dark Utah sky to phone home to loved ones. In the turbulence of the night, we each processed, in our own ways, the meaning of this turn of events.
The sun rose today like any other day. As it peered over the mountain peaks, we reconvened and reflected on what this unfamiliar political terrain means for ourselves, our families, our work and the world we cherish. While we feel the pull to be home with our families, we are also finding support and comfort in being together. We are dealing with this new reality by getting right to work.
These events have triggered our renewed resolve to reach out more and further. Scientists engaging in the world are more important now than ever. Our work to help them do that is a small but important part of what this country needs now. As we support scientists studying the environment, we’ll do more to build bridges between natural and social scientists, and link environmental change to people, the economy, safety, poverty, food security, and health.
We need more connectors – more scientists reaching out to people not like themselves and truly committed to deeply listening in order to understand. This is at the core of true science engagement. We all need more open-mindedness, inclusion, equity, and compassion.
At COMPASS, we talk about helping scientists get to the “tables that matter.” Last night, these tables were reset. Of course we don’t yet understand what these new tables will look like – is it a committee room in a state legislative office, a kitchen table, a Chamber of Commerce breakfast or a White House conference room? We will use our connections to help scientists get there. In some cases, we’ll set the tables ourselves by creating opportunities, and we’ll empower scientists to be prepared and confident. We have supported scientists to share evidence with people holding divergent views, and seen them find common ground.
Throughout today, we have heard resolve from so many scientists in our networks. One of our scientist friends provided this encouragement to his students and colleagues:
“We have work to do. Be proud of what you do and do the best job that you can do. Each little thing matters, and sometimes the little things turn out to be big things. Use this as even more motivation – know that what you do matters. Clear and strong science brings power and justice.”
We’re here to help scientists chart their way through the new territory ahead.
– The COMPASS Team