Our Approach

Guiding Principles

In 2023, CAW members developed a series of guiding principles. These principles communicate CAW’s shared values and guide CAW’s collective decisions. They cannot be separated; these principles are to be understood and honored as a whole. CAW members will hold one another accountable and update these principles to reflect our evolution and learning over time.

CAW creates community.

The strength of our network is in the strength of our relationships—to people, places, and ecosystems. Each of us holds a critical piece of the network because we bring different experiences and expertise. We welcome and treat everyone with dignity and respect. We provide a generative place for CAW members to grow as people and as practitioners. We commit to enhancing CAW’s diversity of tactics, knowledges, and ways of being so that we can better reflect and serve New Hampshire’s coastal watershed communities.

CAW is adaptive.

Change is constant. We are open and responsive to change. We shift with shifting community concerns, strengths, and priorities while staying true to our guiding principles. We evolve with evolving knowledge of climate change impacts. We commit to maintaining flexibility in our approach, responding to change in the communities we serve and staying in touch with our mission and vision.

CAW values data.

Informed planning and adaptation decisions consider the best available climate data. We support, leverage, and share science and research. We help communities understand and apply scientific and technical information on the ground. And, we recognize that we are not the only knowledge holders. We commit to bringing our approach to understanding the world around us into mutual and ethical conversation with other ways of knowing (e.g., experiential knowledge and indigenous knowledge.)

CAW invests in process.

We work with intention, humility, and integrity. We elevate and engage an individual’s and a community’s assets, capabilities, strengths, and aspirations because we believe that these are the foundation for thriving and resilient communities. We recognize work rooted in relationships and relationships rooted in trust take time. We commit to building trust, strengthening relationships, engaging communities as co-producers, practicing transparency, sharing decision-making power, and learning as we go.

CAW catalyzes action.

We connect community members, local organizations, and decision-makers with information and tools to be effective change agents. We uniquely provide space and resources for peer-to-peer learning, information sharing, relationship building, idea generation, experimentation, and collective action. We consider the full suite of adaptation options and approaches, including nature-based solutions, and recognize that adaptation approaches will vary based on the goals, preferences, and concerns of a community. We commit to harnessing the unique potential of collaboration to spark meaningful progress that is greater than the sum of our parts.

CAW embraces complexity.

We cultivate a culture of curiosity. The confluence of systems and crises requires us to ask questions about how we got here and to work across the intersections of issues and disciplines when determining where we are going and how we get there. The challenges and opportunities before us require that we be in principled conversation with diverse perspectives. We commit to building our capacity to identify root causes, recognize injustices, build consensus, and attend to the complex nature of social and ecological challenges because the collective work of our time is to cultivate healthy and vibrant communities and ecosystems.

The principle ‘CAW is adaptive’ was inspired by and adapted from adreinne maree brown’s Principles of Emergent Strategy. The idea of principled conversation is inspired by N’Tanya Lee’s concept of “principled struggle” through which we can honestly disagree and ask questions to deepen understanding.

CAW's 5-Year Intentions

In 2023, CAW members undertook a process to develop an action agenda to guide our collective work together over the next 5 years. This is already serving to energize collaborations and inform grant applications. We are excited to have this resource to help guide and evaluate our work together going forward.