Beyond the boundary: it takes a village to provide climate services
At the outset of the evaluation project, we identified four primary ways that CLIMAS interacts with collaborators and stakeholders based on our experiences: 1) information broker (e.g., climate summary publications, websites, conference presentations), 2) consultant (e.g., expert advice on project development), 3) short-term partner (e.g., cosponsor an event), 4) collaborator (e.g., long-term engagement to address a particular issue). Data collected during this project, however, revealed that CLIMAS also plays a critical role that goes beyond this conceptualization. As a member of a large, expanding, and evolving network of climate service providers and consumers in the US Southwest, CLIMAS is not only navigating back and forth across the policy/science divide, but is playing a role connecting other members in the network to one another. The traditional metaphor for a boundary organization as a bridge, connecting one community to the other, suggests a potential bottleneck where the flow of information runs through the boundary organization. Our data and experiences, however, suggests that CLIMAS often functions more as a bridge builder, connecting various individuals and communities to one another, thereby enabling information flows, consultations, partnerships, and collaborations that do not rely directly on CLIMAS continued involvement. Our results, therefore, suggest that a critical climate service provided by CLIMAS involves catalyzing a broadly diverse network of producers and consumers of climate information that is potentially more sustainable and powerful than any single entity.