River Voices: October 2020

Welcome to the October 2020 edition of River Voices. This month, ahead of the 2020 election, find ways to Get Out the Vote in your community and through your organization. Plus, an update on River Rally 2021 and more time to submit your workshop proposals (new deadline: October 15)!


In typical election years, many nonprofits make sure their audiences are motivated to vote, but with COVID-19, there is a new, crucial role to play: making sure your audiences know how to safely and securely vote absentee and in-person. These details are typically hyper-local, and with many water organizations also working at the local level, groups across the network are perfectly poised to get critical, local voting information to their supporters and followers. Hear from our policy team on why this is so important, and learn about what some groups are already doing.

Read more.


“We, as a community, must have a better understanding of the policies, laws, and regulations that you’re governed by and how elected officials represent you. When a politician is functioning principally in spaces that are beneficial to particular populations, it hurts everybody. We have to look at the world with a holistic vision.”

Meet Alicia Smith. She believes all citizens need information to thrive and that justice work is not limited to the environment but touches on issues of social and economic justice with the goal of promoting peace, public health, and a better quality of life for all citizens.

Cropped shot of an unrecognizable man washing his hands in the bathroom at home

Imagine a Day Without Water is October 21. For the more than 2 million Americans living without basic access to safe drinking water and sanitation, this is not imagination, it’s reality. What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic requires making public health a key priority, but how can you wash your hands if you don’t have running water in your house? We need ALL water systems to continue to commit to stop water shutoffs and to restore water service to those whose water is currently shut off. Use our simple form to ask your state to take action or thank them for already doing so.

Take action.


In response to member requests for guidance and examples to help them effectively engage with members of their community to gather data and use it to address local, water-related problems, River Network is pleased to offer a new grant opportunity. We have developed a tool on Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and will select six community organizations with an interest in and the capacity to incorporate CBPR methodologies in their work to receive $6,500 and technical assistance to develop and deploy a CBPR project in their community.

Learn more and apply by October 28, 2020.

River Rally 2021 Update: A(nother!) Virtual Experience

To provide some certainty for our staff and for you, we have once again made the choice to take River Rally virtual. We are excited about all we learned during River Rally 2020 and the great progress that’s been made in the virtual events space since March. As always, our goal with River Rally is to educate, inspire, and celebrate the tireless work of the community of water protectors across the country and we promise to be on the leading edge bringing the network together in new and innovative ways. Get involved at the links below!


River Network has a new Board Chair! Join us in welcoming Jumana Vasi to this role, succeeding Rebecca Wodder. Jumana is the principal at Jvasi Consulting where she advises nonprofit clients on environmental advocacy strategies, building organizational capacity, and implementing equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.

Meet Jumana.


River Network will recognize Imagine a Day Without Water on October 21 and we encourage you to host a Facebook Fundraiser for your organization! It’s an easy and fun way to ask your supporters to help amplify your message and share their own story and passion for your mission.

Interested in hosting a fundraiser for River Network? Reach out to Lisa Runkel!

Sunrise Movement Bay Area demanding a Green New Deal Now after wildfire smoke has turned our sky orange.

Last month, River Network hosted the Advancing Racial Justice roundtable. Roughly 90 water professionals from around the country participated in the conversation, but of course, one hour is not nearly enough time to begin to understand the complexities of racial justice work. Read co-facilitator and 2020 Emerging Leader Megan Nguyen’s reflections.

Read more and register for Part II.

Events & Learning Opportunities

Imagine a Day Without Water – October 21

This year, as communities across America faced the public health threat of the coronavirus pandemic, water and wastewater systems continued to do their job, 24/7, keeping the water flowing. Many Americans take water for granted every day. But what would a day be like without water? Imagine a Day Without Water 2020 is the sixth annual day to raise awareness and educate America about the value of water. Learn more and get involved!

Making the Case for Equitable Water Infrastructure

October 8, 2 – 3:15p ET
Do you want updated drinking water and wastewater treatment, more rain gardens, and opportunities to restore local rivers and floodplains? Do you want these infrastructure investments to create more jobs in your community, to help build your local economy, and address historic injustice and lack of investment?

If the answer is yes, join this upcoming webinar with River Network, American Rivers, and BlueGreen Alliance.

Learn more and register.

Fall Coffee Roundtables: Get Out the Vote

October 14, 12 – 1p ET
This general election will be like no other. With COVID-19, there’s a new, crucial role nonprofits can play this election season – make sure your audiences know how to vote by mail and how to vote in person. Join us for this roundtable to learn what you can do as a 501c3 organization and share your ideas and learn from your peers from across the country who are working to GOTV!

This roundtable is the first in our Fall Roundtables series. Check out the rest of the series here.

Learn more and register.

Drinking Water: Community Action & Advocacy

October 27, 12-1p CT
Join River Network and our community partners from around the Great Lakes in a conversation about how to take action on drinking water in your community to ensure clean, safe, and affordable water for all.

Speakers include Alicia Smith, Junction Coalition; Andrew Slade & Stephan Witherspoon, Minnesota Environmental Partnership; Mike Balkwill & Dani Lindamood, Wellington Water Watchers; and Stephen Hawkins, Interfaith Earth Network.

Learn more and register.

Storytelling & Resonance: Creating a Culture of Empathy & Support

October 27, 1-2p ET
Creating a culture of empathy and support is an important tool to combat isolation and individualism in our organizations and movements, especially during COVID-19. Join River Network’s 2020 Emerging Leader, Megan Nguyen, as she creates a space for attendees to share stories and listen to others’ perspectives. Come away with a better understanding of the value of connecting through storytelling, and how these tools can be weaved into your work.

Learn more and register.

Science Corner: Data Making a Difference with the Water Data Collaborative

The latest from our science team.

There’s a huge network of volunteer water monitoring across the country, but these individual efforts are often not well-connected. In response, River Network helped found and is on the Steering Committee of the Water Data Collaborative, along with partners including the Waterkeeper Alliance, Izaak Walton League, and Internet of Water. A major focus of the Water Data Collaborative is to create systems that streamline the processes of collecting, uploading, and sharing data.

Additionally, there are many highly effective tools and platforms designed to visualize and analyze collected data, but they are often designed for a single partner. To address this, the Water Data Collaborative has developed a framework to catalyze and scale data sharing among community and non-profit groups, which will provide a critical linkage transforming data to action. The Collaborative serves as a hub of resources to help individuals and groups find and use some of the best practices and technologies to provide and synthesize data for greater impact.

Check out the Water Data Collaborative!

What We’re Reading

Be Anti-Racist: A Journal for Awareness, Reflection, and Action – Released October 6, 2020, Ibram X. Kendi’s latest is “a workbook, a guided journal to assist us on our journey to be antiracist, to be challenging the status quo of racism and White supremacy.” ‬

The Wisconsin Water Agenda – River Alliance of Wisconsin’s water agenda offers is a path to clean water for all. Check it out!

Equity Guide for Nonprofit Technology – From NTEN, this new guide focuses on supporting nonprofit staff in using technology strategically in racially equitable ways to meet their missions and community needs.

Masks On, Litter Gone” – A great recap of River Network’s litter cleanup campaign from Litterati, the app where participants tracked their collected litter.