River Voices: August 2023

Welcome to the August 2023 edition of River Voices. This month we’re connecting the dots between our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and our communications and philanthropy work with a new Inclusive Communications guide and celebration of Black Philanthropy Month. Plus, the launch of our new Online Learning Platform and Giving Circle.


As more and more outreach and education moves online, it’s critical to ensure that our communications practices are accessible, ethical, and welcoming to all users and audiences – but sometimes, it’s also hard to know where to begin. With the generous support of the Fresh Sound Foundation, we’re excited to announce our first ever Inclusive Communications guide. We’ve created this resource to provide both communications and accessibility guidance to the network.

Explore the Inclusive Communications guide and join us and The WaterHub for a learning session covering these topics on September 13.


“The SRF Advocacy Training Series is an extremely valuable resource filled with links to more amazing resources! The entire guide is awesome and the training series really encouraged me to take the time to delve through each and every section in depth.”
-SRF Series participant

We have a new way for network members to learn with us! Explore our new Online Learning Platform and enroll in the first training: a self-paced series on State Revolving Fund Advocacy.

Visit the Online Learning Platform.

James Dilzell (he/him) with the Eagle River out of focus in the background.

“We knew what we wanted to protect at the Watershed Council – fish and stream systems – but these are all related to bigger picture community values. We wanted to know what communities care about. What are their priorities?”

James is Executive Director of Eagle River Watershed Council. He spoke with Carly Schmidt about the transition to the ED role and the importance of marketing, including Spanish translation for relevant communities.

Meet James.


“I strongly believe that we cannot approach environmental issues without operating via an environmental justice framework—for instance, even seemingly objective institutions of scientific knowledge are shaped by dynamics of race, class, and power.”

Ayana joined River Network in January 2023 as Communications Associate. They have been leading our work in exploring and implementing inclusive communications and managing our social channels.

Meet Ayana.

Donyel Johnson during River Network’s June 2023 staff retreat in Steamboat Springs, CO.

Black Philanthropy Month provides a platform for celebration and inspiration, encouraging the voices of underrepresented communities to be heard. In philanthropy, embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is essential to foster meaningful change and this annual observance amplifies the impact of Black giving while shedding light on the unique challenges Black communities face. Hear from River Network Directory of Philanthropy Donyel Johnson on what this month means to her and how our own philanthropy work is centering EDI.

Read Donyel’s blog post.


For the next chapter in River Network’s philanthropy journey, we’re gathering a community of people and organizations to support people and projects that are typically outside the normal proposal-based grantmaking structures, while examining the privilege and power inherent in typical philanthropic efforts. If you care about these topics and have a desire to participate in democratized, collaborative giving to support local projects, please join us! The River Network Giving Circle meets quarterly and selects multiple funding recipients annually.

Join our Giving Circle.

For the fifth year, River Network is excited to work with the USDA Forest Service (Forest Service) to provide local organizations with funding for their work to steward the many diverse Wild and Scenic Rivers that flow over 13,400 river miles in 41 states and Puerto Rico. These designated segments of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System are protected, free flowing rivers that provide opportunities and access for recreation, clean drinking water, and help fuel local economies. And this year, we’re especially excited to introduce a second type of support!

Meet the 2023-2024 Wild & Scenic Stewardship Partners.

“Turtle Island Park, at the confluence of the North Fork of the Middle Fork Willamette and the Middle Fork Willamette rivers, is an important recreation spot for the [Oregon] communities of Westfir and Oakridge as well as a location with promising habitat for native fish, wildlife, and plants. Funds from River Network will go a long way in increasing our positive impact in education, community engagement, and accessibility in this project.”

– Dov Weinman, Executive Director of Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council

Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Communications Tips for the Water Movement

September 13, 12:30pm PT / 3:30pm ET

Join River Network and the Water Hub for a conversation about making your digital and communications content more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming for all communities. In this webinar, we’ll share some takeaways from the Water Hub’s Digital Accessibility Guide and River Network’s new Inclusive Communications Guide.

Register for Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Communications Tips.

UWLN Learning Series: Building Water Equity & Climate Resilient Communities for ALL

September 20, 10am PT / 1pm ET

Join us for part two of our six-part series, highlighting a variety of strategies that community-based organizations can use to help their communities anticipate, prepare for and respond to climate risks. This second session will cover how you can advocate for and participate in the planning and establishment of Resilience Hubs in your own community.

Summit on Climate & Environmental Justice, Racism & the Law

November 16-17; Durham, NC

Taproot Earth’s Just Transition Lawyering Network and partners are excited to share a Save the Date for a Summit on Climate and Environmental Justice, Racism, and the Law. This will be a space for frontline advocates, lawyers, and scholars–particularly those working on climate, environmental, energy, water, and land justice–to come together, share information, engage in political and legal education, build consensus around law and organizing strategies, and advance just solutions rooted in Civil Rights and Black Liberation.

Learn more about the Summit.

One Water Summit 2023, hosted by the US Water Alliance

November 14-16; Tucson, Arizona

Join hundreds of top water leaders in Tucson, AZ, for One Water Summit 2023. From inspiring plenary sessions, skill-building learning labs, interactive workshops, mobile tours, and unparalleled networking opportunities, One Water Summit 2023 is not to be missed. This year includes a variety of site visit opportunities in Tucson, Arizona. Whether you’re interested in river restoration, green stormwater infrastructure, or the history and ecology of natural and built environments, you’re certain to find something inspiring.

Register for the One Water Summit.

Member News

In Memoriam: The Honorable Rev. Dr. JoAnn Watson

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. JoAnn Watson in July. A civil rights icon and co-author of the first water affordability legislation in the US, she was a Detroit legend and we were deeply honored to support her work through Flow Funder Monica Lewis-Patrick. Visit this Twitter thread to share your condolences, and the links below to learn more about this incredible woman’s life and work. Our thoughts and support to all who knew Dr. Watson.

Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.

Clean Water for All Coalition’s State Waters Working Group

In order to support state organizations and on-the-ground efforts to expand protections for wetlands and other waters at the state level, Clean Water for All has launched its State Waters Working group! Their goal is to be as inclusive as possible while sharing collaboration and information across the country. Indicate your interest in joining at the link below and let them know how we can best support you with things like technical expertise from the national level and messaging support.

Complete the State Waters Working Group interest form.

White House Fact Sheet: Water Infrastructure Investments

“To meet the increased demand for American-made water products, American manufacturers are stepping up their production capacity with new investments, creating jobs and American industrial capacity in the process.” 

In July, the White House released a new fact sheet detailing successes as a result of the historic funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Read more about the White House Fact Sheet.

6,000 Miles – Film from CalWild and Partners

CalWild, Colorfool Films, American Whitewater, and HiPark proudly present 6,000 Miles – a short documentary exploring the vital connection between our rivers and the advocacy needed to save them.

The film follows the deep connection between our rivers, and the advocacy needed to save them.

Watch 6,000 Miles.

EXTENDED: Join the Executive Directors Peer Learning Network

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of this 20-person cohort of both new and experienced leaders within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Executive Directors rarely have the time to network and collaborate in ways they did before taking on the ED role. This cohort will build a community of leaders throughout the watershed that can rely on one another, help lift each other up when times are tough, and serve as a resource that can be called upon when needed. The community these leaders build will help equip them to better meet the needs of their staff and address the challenges of the day.

Complete the Executive Directors Peer Learning Network Interest form by August 11.

What We’re Reading

  • 📲 “To My Bebito” – Yessenia Funes, a climate and sustainability journalist writes to her future child—the one she hopes to have and has been afraid of bringing into our world.
  • 📰 “Wisconsin’s river protector has bigger goals now” – our gratitude to Barry Adams and the Wisconsin State Journal for this feature on our new CEO Raj Shukla, his career, and goals for River Network.
  • 📖 Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals – over the last year, multiple River Network staff members have read this book on a new approach to productivity and time management, with rave reviews!

Science Corner: EJScreen Updates

In order to better meet the Agency’s responsibilities related to the protection of public health and the environment, EPA developed a new environmental justice (EJ) mapping and screening tool called EJScreen, which was recently updated. EPA is also hosting a set of ‘Office Hours’ this month, where you can expand your data skills in this area by talking with EPA EJScreen experts about how to use and apply the tool, technical issues, and any other questions. The majority of the time is reserved for participant questions and feedback, so arrive prepared!

Registration is not required – learn more about the August 16 session.

Out Now! Keeping the Chattahoochee, by Sally Sierer Bethea, one of the first women in America to become a “riverkeeper” and a vocal defender of a specific waterway who holds polluters accountable. In Keeping the Chattahoochee, released July 15, 2023, she tells stories that range from joyous and funny to frustrating—even alarming—to illustrate what it takes to save an endangered river. Learn more and order your copy of Keeping the Chattahoochee!