Making Change: Martin Goebel on consumate risk
By Mark Feldman with Martin Goebel, Sustainable Northwest
Martin Goebel is the founder of Sustainable Northwest
Editor's note: This is the first in an interview series called Making Change. The interviews by Mark Feldman will explore the specifics of how change happens through conversations with a range of sustainability leaders.
Martin Goebel founded Sustainable Northwest in 1994 and he’s directed it ever since. Sustainable Northwest was among the first conservation organizations to develop strategies that have since become common practice including: collaborative place-based partnerships and the integration of economic development and conservation. Martin grew up in Mexico City and started his career working on conservation and community development efforts in Mexico. He was a founding member of the Oregon Sustainability Board. Martin recently announced that he will be moving on from his CEO position at Sustainable Northwest after more than 18 years. The nonprofit is searching for a new executive director.
Mark Feldman: How do you explain your success?
Martin Goebel: We set out to prove that conflict could be transformed into collaboration in the contentious spheres of forestry and rangeland conservation and management. Could we turn acrimony and litigation into the tools of last resort? Our success has been due to two main elements.
We focused on one place first: Wallowa County. We found the right leaders in the community who were willing to think and act differently. We were able to create the enabling environment for them to feel safe to discuss issues with insiders and outsiders and find common ground. Then we focused, focused, focused — building on that common ground. Once we got traction in Wallowa County we began to get invited to other communities. We had to be careful how many communities we could take on — we were a very small organization then. And we were by no means done in Wallowa County. These change trajectories take a long time and we stay with them for a long time. That’s what it takes.
If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.