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.
WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE GREAT LAKES, LOVE AND DEPEND UPON OUR WATERS TO SUSTAIN OUR LIVES, OUR COMMUNITIES AND ALL LIFE IN OUR ECOSYSTEM
That is the first line of the Great Lakes Charter Declaration, a 2014 collaborative effort that lays the foundation for a Great Lakes Commons. "We, the people of the Great Lakes" are diverse.
We started with how we arrived at the commons framework and our mutual need for an an integrated approach. For one person this was the combination of working across Canada/USA borders with regional Ojibwe tribes, having a lake-wide perspective lead by many grassroots efforts, participating in discussions about the Rights for future generations, and learning from the leadership of Anishinaabe women.
November 19th marked the our 4th Commons Charter online event -- a bioregional meetup for supporters to share why this Charter is vital and how we (as individuals and as a group) could awaken this commons agreement across the various shorelines.
Recreation. What is recreation? Canadians love the outdoors and especially water sports such as sailing, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Some water groups work closely with recreationalists since being on and enjoying the water fits well with stewardship. On September 27th, we partnered with Sylvia Plain from the Great Lakes Canoe Journey project to re-introduce our group to the canoe.
For the past few years, a dedicated team at GLC has been busy. How do we co-create a Great Lakes Commons with so many obstacles? As you can see by the Background section of our website, there’s a long story of failure we are trying to shift. As a small initiative with BIG goals (to protect the Great Lakes as a shared and sacred commons) what kind of work makes this shift possible?
On a bicycle it is impossible to be numbed by convenience. You have to look around. You embrace what comes. You ride it out, ride through it. Ironically, this is also the same path water follows. Not ironic, water was my riding partner for 15 days this summer as I pedaled my bicycle around Lake Superior. Water does not stop to complain and proliferate. It takes the shape of what it passes over, expresses it, and carries on.
'Imagine the Great Lakes as shared waters cared for and protected by the entire region’s community. That’s the vision of a group called the Great Lakes Commons. Members are people from Indigenous Nations, Canada and the U.S. The organization is officially introducing its charter at a virtual meeting of nearly 100 people on Thursday.
We need a new response to the threats to the Great Lakes. The Commons Charter is a participatory, community-led initiative to shape that vision and build community leadership for it around the Lakes.
A year and a half ago, On The Commons brought 70 people together from around the Great Lakes bioregion to explore how a commons approach might help us create a life giving future for our Lakes. Since then, the Great Lakes Commons has continued to come to life in many ways, with a growing network of people taking up this emerging initiative and finding ways to contribute.