What up Crown of the Continent (CoC)?

Today was the second day of the 6th Annual Conference of the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent. This year’s theme will be the “New Ideas and Enduring Values: The Next Generation of Leadership in the Crown”. It will explore how the businesses, cultures and communities taking progressive actions to balance values in the face of changing economic and climatic conditions. CoC’s ultimate purpose is to connect people to enhance culture, community and conservation in the CoC which was held in University of Montana – University Center. I was really privileged to attend this conference to gain more valuable knowledge and experience on the CoC in a different perspectives from the distinguished speakers.

I can still remember vividly the first class with Dr Len started with the introduction of the CoC. Honestly, it was the first time for most of us to learn and even heard about this topic. Hence, I was really excited for this roundtable in order to gain and enhance my knowledge beyond the classroom level. It was really interesting to have people from all walks of life gathering under one roof that share a common commitment to the region. For instance, they were government agencies, Tribes and First Nations, non-government organizations, community-based partnership and students. While these various initiatives operate independently from each other, the roundtable provides a unique opportunity to exchange ideas, build relationships and explore opportunities to work together in order to maintain the natural and cultural heritage of this remarkable landscape.

The morning session kicked off with few speakers provide insights on the continent in terms of the landscape perspective, local perspective and snapshot of the crown before the explorers. I really enjoyed the morning breakout session which delegates were able to choose a particular discussion to be part of. I chose the Cross Cultural Capacity Building by Laura Caplins and Kim Paul. The discussion was focused on the appropriate protocol and priorities for working with the Blackfeet for their lands. I learnt that one need to understand in depth about the particular cultures, place and history to make sure the future cooperation will be successful. Not to forget, to always be open on the true agenda when collaborating with them.

Meanwhile, for the afternoon breakout session, I chose The Story of The Map by Steve Thompson, the Crown of the Continent Destination Editor, National Geographic Geotourism Maps. I selected this option because I was curious on how the maps of the CoC was created and shared to the public. It was interesting to know that the residents submitted their recommended point of interest or historical places within the region to him. He will then selected the best of all in order to be included in the maps. As the promotional activity for the geotourism sector with the National Geographic, the comprehensive maps were given to public for free. In addition, he shared few of the stories he heard from the residents of the CoC while working on the 2008 National Geographic Map and 2014 revision.

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A day full of listening and learning on the collaborative efforts for the conservation of the CoC, which is also known as The Back Bone or The Heart Beat, located in the Northwestern US. Indeed, learning is a never ending journey. Looking forward for the final day of CoC tomorrow.

By,

Fatin Areena Azlan

Malaysia

17 September 2015

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