Reflecting on the Let’s Be Shore Experience: John Kotoski

John Kotoski, the Operations Manager at the River Run Development Association and Golf Course, has participated in the Let’s Be Shore project from its beginning, not only as a featured video portrait subject, but as a panel member in a community dialogue during the Chesapeake Folk Life Festival in July, and a participant at the World Café event in Salisbury this October.

John Kotoski takes part in a panel at the Chesapeake Folk Life Festival in July 2012

John wanted to voice his thoughts on how he feels his profession connects to the issues of water quality and the environment on the Eastern Shore and felt that more often than not his profession had been represented in a negative or unclear way.  John took advantage of the Let’s Be Shore platform to express his personal opinions on the issues.  Whether you agre

e or disagree with John Kotoski’s viewpoints, he has been an active participant in a quest to engage, share and understand others’ viewpoints around these important community issues. He has proved a willing player in a process that may be a first step in either finding common ground or starting to understand each others’ differences.

Click here to watch John Kotoski’s video portrait

We asked John if he would reflect a bit further and share his thoughts about the Let’s Be Shore project. Our thanks to John for responding to our short Q&A. Let us know what you think! Did you participate in an Let’s Be Shore dialogue event or stop by a s

haring station this summer?  Have you watched video portraits or read quotes?

LBS: Why did you want to participate?

JK: I saw it as an opportunity to get my opinion out there to others who may not be as informed on issues of water quality.

LBS: What do you feel you got out of this process?
JK: The opportunity to hear opinions from others who were interviewed.

LBS: Which part did you find most compelling or enjoyable in the process?
JK: The video interview process was an enjoyable learning experience. The videographer was very professional and kept me at ease

during the interview. Beth (Let’s Be Sh

ore Project Manager) was also great with the audio interview process and video.

LBS: Do you feel dialogue is beneficial? If so why?
JK: I think civil dialogue works when both parties are willing to listen. You can agree to disagree.

Participants watching John’s video portrait at the Salisbury University World Cafe Dialogue event, October 22

At the event at Salisbury University I actually had a conversation with Professor Tom Fisher who, like me, did a video interview. He questioned my statement that water leaving a golf course is cleaner than when it enters. He based his doubt on that statement with work he has done with fertilizers on corn. I explained there is a difference between fertilizer management of corn and turf. And in the end we still may have disagreed but now we will end up exchanging study materials in the near future with each other and hopefully in the end I can prove my point to him.

LBS: Did you learn anything from this process or the other participants involved in this program?
JK: I learned about other points of view from waterman, biologists and others that all are passionate about protecting their jobs, the economy and environment.

LBS: Did you form any new relationships or contacts because of this program?
JK: Yes, with people from the Maryland Humanities Council and other participants in the videos.

LBS: Do you have any ideas of how to move forward on the difficult issues focused on during this program?
JK: I think getting all the (Let’s Be Shore) video participants in the same room and having a round table discussion moderated by the Maryland Humanities Council about where common ground can be found on water issues.

LBS: What would you like to see happen in your community around the focus issues? Any new thoughts?
Open civil dialogue with the Council helping out.

LBS: Has participating in the Let’s Be Shore project changed your behavior, attitudes, or perspectives on water quality today?  Were there any good ideas you heard from others? Have you made changes at River Run as a result of these dialogues?
JK: Seeing and hearing from other people is what I would say are negative attitudes or perceptions about the effects of my industry on water quality. I know from my 30+ years of experience that these perceptions are incorrect and that maybe with giving my perspective and insight, I may help in changing some of those attitudes about my industry.

LBS: If you could have a ‘last word’ on the subject, what message do you want to leave with constituents?
JK: What I would leave to others is that in the end you have to look at all the known scientific facts and leave any political or ideological notions checked at the door when dealing with this issue.

About MD Humanities Council

LetsBeShore is a project of the Maryland Humanities Council's Practicing Democracy program, bringing together multiple perspectives for passionate and respectful dialogue about land use and agriculture and their effect on water quality along Maryland's Eastern Shore.
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