Public support is essential in order for each of the strategic themes of Our Living Waters to achieve the aim of freshwater protection. That's why it is so important that freshwater stewards devote some time and energy into helping to Build the Freshwater Movement.
It all starts with relationships. This includes the relationship that freshwater groups have with each other, with other entities (business, government, other interest groups) and with their constituents.
On the first uniting front, the Living Waters Rally organized by the Canadian Freshwater Alliance brings freshwater leaders from across the county together every two years, including this September 27-30 in Vancouver. The gathering is designed to "celebrate, promote, connect and strengthen work towards freshwater health," and along with opportunities for individual connections, there are regional caucuses where groups working to protect the same watershed can explore synergies and alignments, as well as an outcomes document to be presented to all of the Rally delegates to consider signing on to.
The question of how to build a vibrant freshwater movement will be a core underlying question throughout LWR16 and it is anticipated that delegates will emerge from the Rally with an identified pathway to building that movement.
One of the topics to be explored at the Rally is how to partner with others. For example, there will be presentations on an unusual and fruitful partnership between a grassroots group, Watersheds Canada, and the much-larger Canadian Wildlife Federation; how the Shediac Bay Watershed Association in New Brunswick has been able to serve as the catalyst for unlikely partnerships around a couple of underfunded projects; the work Environmental Defense has done with cities and farmers to build support for measures to reduce nutrient pollution and to preserve shorelines; and how the Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective is trying to build a freshwater movement from an indigenous perspective.
These represent just some of the many potential partnerships with allies that can be an integral part of movement-building. Others include recreation groups; the food and foodie communities; anglers and hunters; local breweries and wineries and so on.
As for deepening relationships and motivating core constituencies of freshwater organization, there are a growing number of resources (LINKS??) around best practices for engagement organizing. In addition, there is a vision for fostering a peer learning network amongst the freshwater community, beyond what can happen at gatherings such as the Living Waters Rally.
In addition to relationships, building a movement also requires some coordinated communications. Common messaging is one component (stay tuned for developments around this) and another one is keeping the freshwater community abreast of relevant developments and activities. This is why a "wire service" of freshwater press releases will be launched soon on the Our Living Waters platform.
And finally, we want to hear about your ideas and activities for how to best build a strong freshwater movement in Canada. Contact Lindsay Teller day or night.