Christine and I have been members of community-supported farms for years now, and now can not think to go a season without a weekly produce delivery. I've been entertaining how to implement a similar concept in science - some sort of structure that seeks to de-centralize science and align it more closely with regionally or locally-based knowledge needs. By decentralizing science I don't believe that we remove science from its current position in large institutions, but instead we grow science to fill more niches and satisfy local demand for knowledge. I and many others have, of course, dabbled in this field before. The idea of citizen-science has become a mainstay for various organizations that I've worked for or been associated with. However, I am talking about taking this sort of endeavor to another level of credibility, and "competing" with institutionally-based science for recognition.
This past week I passed another field session on the beach adjacent to the Elwha River mouth. I've found that community support for my project has been incredible, both in terms of people offering up places to stay and equipment as well as people offering up their time to help with field work. This isn't easy stuff. Days are long and the work is grueling. The weather is frequently...poor. But at this point the list of people who have donated their time in the field is impressive:
Tony Cook (with WSU BeachWatchers of Clallam County)
Yvonne Plantz (with WSU BeachWatchers of Clallam County)
Ann Elliot (with WSU BeachWatchers of Clallam County)
Sam Stout (with WSU BeachWatchers of Clallam County)
This post is a way to thank those individuals for their time and effort. It is not a small thing. It is also an introduction to what I hope is a longer conversation in my life - growing this idea of smaller science that answers big questions.