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.
Water takings have been occurring for over 100 years, with the first bottling permit established in 1912. In recent decades a surge in demand has allowed for an expansion in commercial water extractions throughout Canada – specifically centered in Southern Ontario and British Columbia.
Alongside this surge, the amount of water taken daily has also increased to a staggering rate at multiple plants; i.e. in 2011 Nestle applied for a permit to take 3.6 million litres per day for bottling purposes. This is nearly the size of 1.5 olympic-sized swimming pools of water being extracted everyday.
We got an email back in April about a poet, musician, and cyclist planning to ride around Lake Superior and talk about a water commons. Ben Weaver calls Minneapolis home and sets off today to extend his circle and community of care.
Summer is here and what more is there to do than thank the waters in our lives and bodies. June 6th marked the 100in1Day festival in Toronto where locals left their individual turfs to co-create over 100 'urban interventions' to re-make the city into a home. One day everyday could be like 100in1Day.
Access -- one of the many key elements to making a commons. Access to clean water sources, access to decision making processes, and access to information and communication. One simple step in making the Great Lakes Commons Charter more accessible is making a pocket version -- done.
What is water? A seemingly simple question but the impacts that flow from your answer shape our delicate relationship with this blue earth.
The “common” ways of looking at water are all around us. Bottled water commercials, conservation campaigns, government plans, purification technologies, recreational dreams, and scientific discoveries all talk about water as a commodity, a resource, a playground, and a chemical bond known as H2O.
Toronto has been developing a Great Lakes Commons workshop that introduces how GLC is different from many other water protection organizations.
Called 'Becoming Great Ancestors', the 90-minute workshop offers 8 different ways we can relate to water. 4 of these are called "common ways" and 4 are called "commons ways". See the slight difference. You can see and download a copy of the workshop outline and materials if you'd like to host a similar workshop in your community.
As the Great Lakes Commons initiative braids public trust and Indigenous laws for protecting water, new ideas are emerging.
Let's look at 2 examples.
We are happy to share our new website with clearer organization and new photos (with a winter theme). We have more updates to make and welcome your suggestions -- and photos. We'll be updating the photos every season so start sending in best spring photos. We would also like images (photos, paintings, carvings, etc) that help illustrate our transformative approach: