Dozens of committee and subcommittee meetings have produced plenty of ideas and proposals intended to strengthen Coastal Alabama’s capacity to bounce back from catastrophes like the recent oil spill. Now comes the sorting.
What concepts deserve to be integrated into final strategies? And by what standards should they be prioritized?
Those are key questions for the next phase of the Coastal Recovery Commission process. That stage begins at Tuesday, October 26, when the full CRC holds its second meeting, 1 to 5 p.m. at the Battle House Hotel.
CRC chair Ricky Mathews will remind attendees of the Commission’s key goals and open the conversation about aligning those goals with ideas emerging from the smaller group sessions. Three big concerns have already risen to the top: The need to cultivate a regional perspective, the need to make coastal insurance more affordable, and the need to “heal the Gulf brand” undermined by misperceptions about seafood safety.
Getting to work on the perception problem “can’t wait until December 15,” when the CRC’s report is due, says Mathews. “We have to start now.” So expect an announcement related to that effort.
The seafood industry is getting help from marine scientists who are experts on the conditions in the Gulf that affect fish, oysters, and shrimp. George Crozier, executive director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and a member of the CRC, has been eloquent in his explanations of the problem. Here’s what he wrote in an Oct. 17 “Insight” piece in the Mobile Press-Register:“As someone who has spent a career studying Gulf of Mexico ecosystems, I am optimistic that — so far, at least — changes to those systems as a result of the spill may be perceptible only to marine scientists probing the details.
“Unfortunately, the human component of the Gulf’s ecosystem does not appear to be showing the same degree of resilience. And it is that set of effects — the toll on the everyday lives of humans and on the regional economy — that we should be most concerned about at the moment.”
Walter Bell, the former Alabama Insurance Commissioner and now a leading international insurance industry executive, followed Crozier’s “Insight” op ed with his own on Oct. 24. Bell, speaking about the persistent coastal insurance dilemma, explains how we might learn a strategic lesson from the risk management approach common not only in insurance but in most businesses challenged by exposure to uncertainty.
On Tuesday, CRC members will review the committees’ and subcommittees’ work-in-progress as organized by the writers charged with producing the final report. Outlines of the ideas and proposals will be literally “pinned up” on boards for members to see. Gaps will be obvious. The same for redundancies and misdirections. Then, the way forward will come into sharper focus.
Next, after the Oct. 26 meeting, comes a series of three public meetings on Nov. 8, 9, and 10 in Baldwin and Mobile Counties. Times and places will be announced soon. So keep checking back here.