Telling Stories on LandScope America

As the team begins in earnest the work of planning and building our 2008 site, the rosy glow of achievement that came from launching the LandScope America preview site has started to wane. But as senior online editor for the project, I couldn't be more excited to dig into the task. In fact, the idea of telling the kinds of stories we've been discussing -- making use of the full range and potential provided by the written word, photography, audio and video -- hardly seems worthy of that any four-letter word, maybe especially "work."

So, then, we have a great deal of effort to put into the project. Indeed, a great deal already has been, and we look forward to continuing to share it in the near term through the preview site. It's been a revelation to see the rest of the team start to make good on the promise of sophisticated technical integration with our mapping and other tools. I've learned a lot during my first five months, both at NatureServe and on this project, through their good offices.

For my part, I'm pleased that stories have played such a central role in thinking about the project from its inception. I am, of course, biased, but I earnestly believe that stories are a fundamental part of what makes us human, and no amount of maps, data and information however rich and compelling, can substitute for them. To be brief, we hope that the stories that LandScope America will present succeed in reflecting the vast range of dignified and legitimate human responses to place. A short list of these would include go beyond the scientific observation and assessment that is NatureServe's stock and trade, encompassing personal narratives that reflect on the natural and cultural landscapes we inhabit, whether from scientists and non-scientists, and mingling elements of other disciplines like geology, hydrology, and anthropology. As a means of adding the depth and richness to the content on the site, I'd even like to find a place for early natural history accounts, where relevant ones exist.

In the coming weeks and months, we'll be reaching out to our partners and other members of the conservation community to weave together a rich tapestry from these varied strands of thought. We'll also get cracking on prototypes to share as soon as they're ready. Meanwhile, if you're sitting on a conservation story that is just waiting to be told, don't wait -- pick up the phone or the keyboard and let me know.

- Kyle Copas

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