River Voices: July 2023

Welcome to the July 2023 edition of River Voices. This month we’re sharing two powerful stories from Flow Funders on how their participation in River Network’s trust-based philanthropy journey is affecting and inspiring their work. Plus, a video message from our new CEO, Raj Shukla!

Arthur Johnson speaks at the water's edge in New Orleans.
Arthur Johnson during a field trip to New Orleans in March 2023.

This month, we’re highlighting two Flow Funders’ journeys in trust-based philanthropy. Head to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and meet Arthur Johnson: a leader in his community, Arthur understands that in addition to climate resilience, his community has multiple concerns—access to affordable housing, jobs, decision-making, historical preservation, and a sense of belonging—and that these are ALL important in creating sustainability and equitable climate resilience. Then, meet Texas-based Servant Leader Teresa Davis and listen to her own experience as a Flow Funder, in a special audio edition of Meet Your Network.

“We have evolved into talking about housing, underserved communities, quality of life, that because of the waterways, because of the environment, that these are not isolated domains – they do connect together.”

–Arthur Johnson, Chief Executive Director, Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED)


River Network’s awards, presented at River Rally, are designed to recognize that, while another challenge might be right around the corner, there is great progress happening by champions across the network, and this progress deserves our appreciation and celebration! This year, we’re accepting River Hero nominations for both individuals and teams/organizations, as well as self-nominations for both awards: River Heroes and the Emerging Leader.

Nominate a River Hero or Emerging Leader by August 31.


“My experience as a Flow Funder has been absolutely humbling. It’s been outside of the box … outside of the mainstream thinking when it comes to philanthropy. It’s been full of charity and hope, giving and altruism…and a real sense of community capacity building.”

Teresa Davis is a servant-leader and philanthropist at heart, with a long-standing dedication to supporting communities affected by various forms of social and environmental injustices.

Meet Teresa.

Earlier this year, River Network released the first-ever State of the Network Survey results. Watch the video above to explore the findings in a new way to understand and tell the story of the collective reach and on-the-ground impact of our nationwide network; discover demographic trends; and identify the biggest challenges groups face, from fundraising to addressing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI).

Learn more about the State of the Network Survey.

The network spoke and we’re listening! Last year, hundreds of members participated in River Network’s State of the Network Survey. The results showed many of you are looking for communications support to better reach prospective donors and volunteers. Now, we’re bringing you an exclusive opportunity to learn from TechSoup and explore their Digital Assessment Tool!

Learn more about TechSoup’s Digital Assessment Tool.

USDAC Honor Native Land Network Gathering and Online Concert

July 12, 4pm PT / 7pm ET
The US Department of Arts and Culture is commemorating six years of its #HonorNativeLand toolkit with a special Network Gathering online concert featuring music from Frank Waln and Pura Fe, with a special Q&A with Pura Fe afterwards. The toolkit has been downloaded 45,000 times by people like you looking to practice solidarity with Indigenous peoples, and now USDAC is sunsetting this work, passing the baton onto Indigenous led organizations.

Register for the Honor Native Land Concert.

Executive Directors Chat: Artificial Intelligence — the Good, the Bad, and the Scary

July 25, 10am PT / 1p ET
Join TechSoup to explore the boundless potential of AI, and confront the good, the bad, and the downright scary aspects of these game-changing technologies. Led by Deb Stuligross, a seasoned technology professional with extensive experience working alongside nonprofits, this webinar will explore how to harness AI’s power while being responsible stewards of the invaluable data entrusted to you as nonprofit leaders. This interactive session will encourage questions, address concerns, and more.

Register for the Executive Directors Chat on AI.

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

July 19, 10 am PT / 1 pm ET
A new six-part series begins this month! The series will highlight a variety of strategies that community-based organizations can use to help their communities anticipate, prepare for and respond to climate risks. This first session will offer a brief overview of the disparate impacts of climate change in the U.S. and help participants initiate and navigate local conversations about climate risk and vulnerability.

CSOs and Clean Water Goals: Recs from the GAO to Track and Accelerate Progress

August 2, 10am PT / 1pm ET
Join River Network to hear from Government Accountability Office (GAO) staff about their new report Clean Water Act: EPA Should Track Control of Combined Sewer Overflows and Water Quality Improvements. CSO pollution is prohibited by the Clean Water Act and lower income communities and communities of color are often disproportionately impacted. Discussion and Q&A will follow the presentation.

Register for the GAO Learning Session.

Member News & Tips

River Network Is Hiring! Drinking Water Program Director

Join our team! We’re looking for an experienced candidate to oversee our work to increase access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water nationwide by growing the capacity and connectedness of our network to advance equitable drinking water policies. Our ideal candidate understands and has experience working with nonprofit organizations and with under-represented groups, particularly racially and ethnically diverse communities.

Apply for the Drinking Water Program Director position by July 10.

It’s Time to Get Loud for the IRA!

WaterHub, Resource Media, and the Energy Foundation have a new campaign touting the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – and need the network to help spread the word. We need to get loud as a movement to promote the IRA’s benefits, though we know it’s not panacea for our water or climate crises, and fight for these funds.

Learn more about and share the Get Loud campaign!

Denver Nonprofit Kick-Starts Management Plan for Clear Creek Watershed

River Network has supported Stream Management Plans and Integrated Water Management Plans (IWMP) in Colorado for many years. We’re thrilled to see an IWMP coming together for Clear Creek, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of Ashley Giles and West Denver Trout Unlimited.

Read about the Clear Creek SMP in Westword.

The Business Case for Water Affordability: A New Downloadable Tool

This month NRDC released a free tool for water and wastewater utilities to seeking to address affordability of bills for their low-income customers. The first-of-its kind Water Affordability Business Case Tool allows water and wastewater utilities to quantity the “business case” for water affordability, by modeling the financial impacts on the utility of offering low-income discounts.

Download the Water Affordability Business Case Tool.

What We’re Reading and Listening To

  • 📲 The queer nature of Pattie Gonia, a great interview by HEATED.
  • 🎧 “People. Nature. Big Ideas.” Trust for Public Land Equity and Belonging Director Ronda Lee Chapman (who also currently serves as River Network Board Vice Chair) invites you to listen in on thought-provoking conversations that explore our human connection with the natural environment—and how those connections influence culture, the arts, joy, and healing, all while building resilient and vibrant communities. Congrats on a beautiful series, Ronda!
  • 📖 “Bridging Indigenous and non-Indigenous Knowledge Systems,” a special, all open-access issue of the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR)’s Journal of Great Lakes Research that contains 17 articles spanning the globe and sharing lessons
    for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities to work together to understand and act as stewards of the environment.

Pre-Order Today! 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, publishing 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 preorder!