Great Lakes Commons co-hosted a Water Summit in Flint this fall as part of a union of water organizations challenging Nestlé on its water bottling and calling an end the tap water crises in Flint, Detroit, and Indigenous nations. GLC hosted a workshop called "The Colonial Enclosure of Water" in the Great Lakes that showed several examples of how to re-centre Indigenous claims, perspectives, and rules for water governance.
Protected solely as a resource, water is threatened most by our collective denial that water is much more -- it is also the source of many vital relationships.The Water Friendship project aims to name these relationships, present their value and role in water protection, and offer concrete actions to guide water policy, curriculum, and advocacy. Additionally, uncovering lost connections to water can connect people across different cultures, professions, and locations.
3 field dispatches from the 2016 folk opera tour "The Wastelands" performed by Children of the Wild. Here we visit Lorain (Ohio) Fon-du-Lac (Minnesota) and the Straits of Mackinac (Michigan) to hear the voices of poets, elders, and musicians calling out for a renewed relationship with the lands and waters. Includes 3 short videos.
The 2008 financial crisis was ripe for a meltdown since those most literate with the world’s financial laws and limits were accomplices in the damage. An obscure and unquestioned governance system was the ideal setting for public negligence and private greed. 2008 proved that banks are not “too big to fail.” The regulators and traders skirted responsibility and hit a windfall, while about 10 trillion dollars was taken from people’s financial assets. The system crashed, the banks failed their customers, and yet in 2017 it is still business as usual. In 2017 we should be wondering about the Great Lakes: will they crash as well?
3 original podcasts on water leadership and collaboration.
What about the social bonds we have with water? Are we a good friend to water? Since we are in a relationship with water, what indicators do we have for measuring the quality of this relationship?
Whether we acknowledge it yet or not, we live in a world built on relationships. The environment is not a collection of resources. Environmental health is not a computation of biodiversity (the number of species) and elemental exchanges (water, air, soil, sunlight). What mainstream society has labelled ‘the environment’ is an illusion of separation. We are the environment.
While having money is private affair, the value of money is a commons. Like many other commons, money is a social agreement on what we value and how that value is exchanged and passed on. Let’s imagine for a moment.
Let’s imagine that the value of money is tied to the quality and availability of water to serve life in the Great Lakes basin. Since we are water, the water’s benefit is our benefit. We know economics is a sub-system of ecology and our money system needs to reflect this, not subvert it.
Over the past year Great Lakes Commons has been working with partners to put together a Charter Toolkit to help communities and individuals protect water as a shared and sacred commons. The Commons Charter inspired the resources developed for the toolkit. The Charter’s themes of personal responsibility, commons governance, water protection, and Indigenous rights (just to name a few) are reflected in this collection of tools.
when the wind blows from north to south
i wish for better words to line my mouth
to keep the birds flying, the fish swimming
for Anishnaabek everywhere to keep winning
for semaa to keep growing and new leaders to keep showing
their faces to the world, and changing the world with their knowing
On December 8, Great Lakes Commons hosted another campfire discussion with supporters across the basin. For the past several weeks and months, everyone concerned about water protection, protecting the sacred, and Indigenous rights have been following this story -- a story pitting people against profits, water against oil, and ceremony and treaty law against state and military power. From the shores of Lakes Ontario, MIchigan, and Simcoe about 10 GLC supporters came together share experiences of visiting the Dakota Nation, the Standing Rock Tribe, and the water protector camps. You can listen to our discussion too.
On November 29, 2016, 12 educators from around the Great Lakes started a conversation on the tools and methods to integrate a 'water curriculum' in shared classrooms and communities. This confluence was organized and hosted by Bonnie McElhinny (University of Toronto) and Paul Baines (Great Lakes Commons). Each participant was asked to talk about their experiences and background in water education and to consider the following questions:
- How do you engage students?
- What is one problem, question, or resource that remains unaddressed or unavailable for you?
- What opportunities do you see for educators and students connecting across the Great Lakes?
We might as well frame this stage of Western history as a time of fragedy. Fragedy, to buck the urban dictionary trend, is a drama so comical that its overwhelmingly ludicrous improbabilities trigger in its audience a pathos so fragile that the characters’ plight is no longer funny and enters the realm of the absurd. You know we are living in fragic times when Alec Baldwin and Larry David play the president-elect and the loser with a spookier believability than the Donald and Bernie who play these characters, respectively, in real life.
This is a story of inner growth in the midst of, what Lindsay Swan, our Dante, would call dire outer circumstance. Trigger warning: the following contains mention of botulism and Russian propaganda.
There is a common concern around water privatization in the Great Lakes. Commercial bottled water is at the heart of this issue but is also involves looking at public water systems, water access and equity, and legal standards. There are also cultural and societal roles involved. It's a complicated matter that experts and advocates are trying to address. Great Lakes Commons helps connect communities around shared water issues like this. We recently hosted a conversation with experts and advocates from Michigan and Ontario. The goal of the meeting was to identify, learn and share key ideas and strategies on how to address bottled water and water privatizations in the Great Lakes region.
This week Canada announced it was phasing out coal use for making electricity by 2030 even though 4 Provinces still burn coal to boil water to turn a turbine to generate a current. Steam engine technology is 300 years old and it's at work everyday in the Great Lakes for coal (in all 8 U.S. states) and for nuclear power (7 U.S. states and Ontario).
The lifecycle and controlled explosions of coal and uranium on this planet are at the heart of our water dystopia.