16 November 2014

Dear N-Gen,

At over 200 members – 50% based in the US, 47% based in Mexico, and 3% from regions beyond – our network of collaborators and colleagues continues to expand. In step, so do our actions. The board has been hard at work over the past year. We would like to take a moment to share with you what we have been working on and what you have to look forward to.

Summit 2015

The next region wide N-Gen Summit will be held in Guaymas, Sonora at the hotel Playa de Cortés 27–29 October 2015. Mark your calendars now! More information will be coming soon regarding a call for applications for student travel awards and how to make reservations. These three days of (un)conference connections and brain storming are not be missed. We certainly hope you will be in Guaymas in a year’s time to continue to push the arch of desert research.

“Seeds in the Sand”, N-Gen Special Issue of the Journal of the Southwest

Under the guidance of Carolyn and the editorial committee, the N-Gen Special Issue of the Journal of the Southwest, “Seeds in the Sand: Emerging approaches to understanding the Sonoran Desert and Gulf of California” is taking great form. Nine articles by 44 authors present the state of the art of the research in the Sonoran Desert. Contributions fuse art and science; articulate the socio-ecological story of the culturally iconic carne asada; tell the story of the opening of the Gulf of California from geologic and biologic perspectives; and examine large-scale ecosystem based management programs such as PANGAS, among others. Drafts of chapters have been submitted and the editorial process is well underway. All is in line to have this volume in hand by the 2015 Summit.

Mining Statement

In response to the devastating Buenavista del Cobre mining spill in the Río Sonora and the alarming trend of a disregard for environmental regulations in Mexico Alberto, Nemer, and Ben authored the position statement “Development at any cost: a false premise”. Many of you endorsed this piece and it received wide recognition in Mexican media by being featured in two editorial articles (La Jornada 9 Oct 2014; La Jornada 20 Oct 2014). Beyond going on the record that “decisions need to prioritize the environment as they have development”, our subsequent actions will work to reflect this sentiment. Specifically, conservation expeditions will connect the expertise of the N-Gen community to the most pressing conservation issues in the Sonoran Desert. These actions will follow the successful model we realized in the Cabo Pulmo region.

Arts and Science Initiative

In the coming days we will be launching the N-Gen Arts and Science Initiative. Art can present the results of research in the ways science cannot. The collaborative understanding and story telling presented by the fusion of art and science is largely lacking. A remarkable community of artists is based in the Sonoran Desert. The N-Gen Arts & Science Initiative will connect researchers and artists to communicate and disseminate knowledge, to see science through a different lens. We will begin this process with a cartoon contest that challenges participants to depict life in the Sonoran Desert and a collaborative project, “6&6”, that partners artists and scientists in the creation of a tangible object that reflects these two perspectives. Stay tuned for details.

Fundraising

To continue pursuing the N-Gen vision we are in the midst of fund raising for an ambitious three-year agenda. Beyond the actions described above we hope to:

  • Establish an N-Gen Institute to foster collaborative efforts to answer the research and conservation challenges of our time.
  • Lead Comcaac Conservation Ecology Courses to develop indigenous leaders via the highest level of science and conservation education.
  • Offer Research Grants to support student research in the Sonoran Desert.
  • Expand our regional chapters to connect collaborators and catalyze interaction .
  • Maintain and enhance www.nextgensd.com as the central hub for research and conservation in the Sonoran Desert.
  • Undertake Conservation Expeditions that connect science to conservation.

We could not be more excited about where N-Gen finds itself two and a half years since the need for our community was made clear at the inaugural Summit. The connections we make now and the work we undertake together will plant the seeds for the scientific and conservation successes of tomorrow. It is with great privilege that we are able to link the past to the present, one way of understanding the world to another, and the potential of this community to the future.

Our best wishes for a holiday season filled with loved ones and desert joy,

Ben, Carolyn, and Nemer