Today’s post kicks off a week of blogging, devoted to stories from the 2010 ELAW Annual Meeting.  Check back regularly this week to hear from the people who were there.  But first, a little background for you.

ELAW founding members meet in 1992

ELAW became ELAW back in 1989 at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon’s School of Law in Eugene, Oregon.  At that time, the Internet and email were new.  You might say ELAW was the first social network.

Much more than a listserv, the ELAW network has been a place for the public interest underdogs to cheer for each other, provide each other with the legal and scientific tools we need to win, and to be the support network that people in our line of work need when times are tough.

But no matter how live and engaging electronic communications become, ELAW will always recognize the value of face-to-face interactions.

ELAW has a tradition of hosting meetings in odd-numbered years right here in Eugene, Oregon.  Those meetings still coincide with the PIELC.  In even-numbered years, an international partner hosts the meeting.  In recent years, we have convened in Mombasa, Kenya (2008); Santiago, Chile (2006); Slavske, Ukraine (2004);  Guadalajara, Mexico (2002); and Arusha, Tanzania (2000).

Graciously, partners in Costa Rica offered to host the 2010 ELAW Annual Meeting,which they scheduled to coincide with an ELAW Central America Regional Meeting, which was hosted with generous support from the Seattle International Foundation.

As in years past, before the packed schedule of interesting panels, exciting speakers, and hot topics was announced,  leading public interest attorneys, scientists, and grassroots advocates from around the globe rushed to make plans to attend the international ELAW annual meeting.  Over 100 advocates from 30 countries participated.

Partners at the 2010 ELAW Annual Meeting say hello to their friends in the network who could not join them in Costa Rica.

The Annual Meeting kicked off on November 28 in Punta Leona, Costa Rica and closed with a panel discussion and traditional dance performance the evening of November 30.  Partners collaborated on new solutions to problems stemming from coastal development, climate change, use of water resources, mining, oil development, and more.

ELAW’s founders agreed to collaborate,  share successful environmental policies, and learn from each other’s experience.  Now that the 2010 Annual Meeting is over, we will continue to collaborate as we always do, but we will look forward to seeing our friends again.  As Carla said:

These are the moments we crave for, to meet face to face after years of digital communication, of pdf attachments and legal memoranda.  …conversations will drag on for hours on end, be it on sand or water or luscious green, about environmental law, about legal strategy and about how to improve the environment.

Follow us this week as we share news from Carla and other participants at this year’s ELAW Annual Meeting.