by Peter Donovan, 1995
Inside his tiny office on a fluorescent-lit corridor of Washington State University's huge animal science complex, Jeff Goebel has posted Gandhi's injunction: "Be the change you expect." Goebel is a guiding force behind a change so fundamental that most people aren't aware that it is possible. In order to address the underlying cause of biodiversity loss and conflict, he is helping people change the way they make decisions.
Four years ago, Goebel went to work as a natural resources planner for north central Washington's Colville Confederated Tribes. The Colvilles face the same problems the rest of the world faces: the increasing difficulty of sustaining ways of life on a deteriorating resource base, and the resulting conflict.
Like most people and organizations, the Colvilles have been acting on expert opinion, problems and opportunities, multiple and conflicting goals, availability of funding, and compromise. After decades of forest and range management by outside experts, year-round springs and streams have been drying up on tribal lands, and traditional food and medicine plants have been disappearing. Many Colvilles regard the decline in traditional languages, cultural identity, family values, and health as inseparable from the deterioration of land and water. Says planner Lois Trevino, "We have lost so much. We have a lot of anger and grief over what has been taken away."