River Voices: February 2021
Welcome to the February 2021 edition of River Voices. This month, we’re reflecting on lessons learned from four organizations in the Great Lakes basin that modified their drinking water campaigns in response to COVID-19. Plus, join River Network’s new online community and register for River Rally 2021!
With support from the C.S. Mott Foundation, River Network assisted four Great Lakes-based organizations in the development of their campaigns to address drinking water concerns in their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic demanded creative solutions to restricted community gathering and organizing, as well as innovative communication strategies to reach entire communities. We collectively learned some valuable lessons in 2020, and we’re excited to share them with you.
“It was wild moving completely from in-person work to virtual, especially because our membership is a little bit older, but it’s been amazing to watch the ways that our work has been elevated through this time in ways that we didn’t think possible.”
Meet Dani Lindamood, Program Manager at Wellington Water Watchers, and learn how the People’s Water Campaign mobilized individuals and organizations to come together.
“Winning this award, which was made for young people like me who have less experience but show passion and potential, quieted that voice of self-doubt and kickstarted a year that has made me even more sure of my value and innate power as a leader, conservationist, and activist.”
Megan Nguyen reflects on her experience as River Network’s 2020 Emerging Leader and discusses what she has learned by sharing her story openly and vulnerably.
Meet Sheyda Esnaashari, River Network’s Drinking Water Program Manager. Based in Chicago, Illinois, Sheyda is passionate about human rights and social justice, and views freshwater as a vital resource that should be accessible to all communities. Sheyda facilitates the Drinking Water & COVID-19 peer group at River Network and provides technical assistance to organizations working toward safe and affordable drinking water in their communities.
With funding and support from the Kresge Foundation, River Network is excited to announce it has awarded Technical Assistance Grants to eight organizations around the country to support the design and implementation of grassroots, ground-up, community-led processes to better understand climate- and water-related issues, impacts and threats in their community, and support advocacy efforts to address them.
At River Rally 2021, we look forward to practical content contributed from across the country, another incredible awards panel, mentorship opportunities, and peer-to-peer engagement on the issues that matter most to you. Check out the 2021 program. You can also apply for a scholarship when you register.
The new Online Community is now open to the entire network! River Network is thrilled to provide a space for all water protectors to connect with peers on topical issues, share opportunities, address challenges, stay up to date on the latest water news, and foster partnerships for shared impact.
Events & Learning Opportunities
Feb. 24, 12-1:30p ET
COVID-19 forced many organizations to transition their annual fundraisers to online events. As you prepare for your own event, hear from West Michigan Environmental Action Council and Cahaba River Society about their own experiences, their lessons learned, and plans for 2021.
Feb. 17, 2p ET
Join The North Central Region Water Network for an exploration of Indigenous perspectives on water and conservation. Speakers will discuss how traditional ecological knowledge on intercropping and soil health techniques can inform modern ecological and agricultural knowledge.
Feb. 23, 7p ET
Join Save the Sound for their third environmental trivia night featuring all-new questions with the same friendly competition! You’ll be challenged on two rounds of Connecticut and New York trivia, along with general and environmentally-focused questions. Time to brush up on your state knowledge.
Mar. 4, 12p ET
The Mapping Inequality Project created a foundational resource for unprecedented research, education, organizing, and policy advocacy on redlining and current environmental challenges. Two of its founders will discuss the impact of this game changing project.
Science Corner: Putting Your Data to Its Most Effective Uses
The latest from our science team.
Data collection and analysis are crucial to understanding the health of your watershed. How can you use data to help inform decisions, educate the public, and grab the attention of local leaders and funders? In this recorded series, Putting Your Data to Its Most Effective Uses, learn ways to use different types of data products and visualization tools to create eye-catching visuals that tell a story to your target audience.
Data Informed Storytelling explores storytelling through the lens of three key audiences: local elected officials, statewide agency staff, and donors, and the webinar focuses on using data in the context of a well-crafted story that points toward a clear action ask. In Data Visualization Tools: Google Data Studio, participants learn how to access, format and host data and the basics of building charts, maps, and interactive dashboards. These webinars were created for groups within the Delaware River Basin, but are applicable more broadly and can spark ideas for how to creatively use your data.
“We need confidence in our institutions and government itself. We must insist on elected officials of the highest moral character and hold responsible those accountable for the damage we have witnessed. We stand for a future where we rebuild our democracy together, community by community, with no one left behind. This future will be one where water and rivers connect us too, uniting rather than dividing us.”
River Network condemns the recent attacks on our democracy, which is fundamental to our efforts to deliver safe, clean, affordable water and healthy rivers to people and nature.
What We’re Reading (& Listening To!)
Soil: The Dirty Climate Solution: How to Save the planet looks at regenerative farming as a way to fight climate change.
Composing a Sound Map of an Ever-Changing River: Annea Lockwood’s composition, “A Sound Map of the Housatonic River” takes listeners on a 150-mile tour, from the headwaters in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, past sites of toxic PCB contamination, to the Connecticut Audubon sanctuary, where the river spills into Long Island Sound.
#ColorofWater – head over to Twitter and explore this new series from the Water Hub at Climate Nexus, highlighting BIPOC water advocates and experts.
At Dawn of Biden Administration, Opportunities for Water Systems: Circle of Blue explores how water programs could receive more attention with Democratic control of the Presidency and Congress.