A Community-centric Approach to Lake Health
The success of many projects, including the Blue Lakes Program, largely depends on community involvement. The program itself started as a small idea that has continually grown with the invaluable support of our community. Every day we get closer to the reality of sustaining healthy lakes across The Land Between because of our participants!
Participating in The Blue Lakes Program sets an example of lake stewardship for neighbours, friends and family. Some people may inquire about lake stewardship, which presents the perfect opportunity to inform and educate them about the importance of lake health. Helping us grow the Blue Lakes Program in this way is a simple opportunity to make a difference in lake health. Ultimately, greater participation in the Blue Lakes Program will create a stronger program as well as more positive outcomes for our lakes.
Social outreach may not directly relate to improving lake health, but increasing uptake for the Blue Lakes Program is incredibly valuable. This is because a group of people has more influence or power than a single person alone. As more and more community members learn about the Blue Lakes Program, lake stewardship will become a ‘norm’ and a natural part of living on the lake for many community members. Through the help of our Blue Lakes participants, we can reach new communities to work towards the common goal of lake stewardship. In addition to supporting the broader Blue Lakes mission, community members also report countless additional benefits from involvement in a group. For one, active involvement in one’s community is a powerful way to become connected with new people and build relationships. The Blue Lakes Program is an opportunity to connect with those on your lake - perhaps new neighbours, old friends, or those that you may have lost contact with. Strong communities also enable emotional support, access to the resources or networks of other community members, exchange of knowledge and skills, and the potential to collaborate with others to generate greater impact on projects.
Social Outreach as it pertains to the Blue Lakes Program involves forming meaningful relationships within your community, starting with a shared interest in lake stewardship. Strong communities with supportive members will achieve more together than any individual could achieve alone for lake health!
Education & Inclusivity
Learning about nature, your specific lake or community, as well as issues that are occurring in your area provides a strong basis for action and outreach. Knowledge is also powerful when it is shared. Sharing observations and experiences with other lake communities and conservation groups is a meaningful way to learn and gain skills but it is also a way of cultivating relationships, increasing capacity, and finding robust solutions.
Understanding that there will likely be multiple participants working towards the health of the same lake as a group, The Blue Lakes Program promotes inclusive lake committees that foster equality amongst group members. Including "governance" in programming may not at first seem like it relates to lake stewardship. However, practicing good governance in a group acts as the building block of community lake stewardship. To create a positive group environment, we encourage a non-hierarchical government structure within your group that utilizes a rotating chair for meetings and even informal discussions. Establishing rankings or ‘importance’ within your group will likely create internal challenges, while a non-hierarchical group encourages a welcoming community. A welcoming community means that everyone’s voice has an equal contribution to the discussions, and decisions are made together as a group. A wonderful practice to incorporate into Blue Lakes meetings is Talking Circles, a tradition of Indigenous peoples centred on equality among participants. This practice is based on the principle of sharing power rather than having power.
Social Outreach, Education & Inclusivity & The Blue Lakes Program
One of the Performance Areas that participants can set goals and actions under within the Blue Lakes Program surrounds the social and educational opportunities afforded to Blue Lakes participants. Participants may elect to work under this Performance Area if they are/want to be more active in their lake community, are keen to share knowledge with others, or enjoy social outreach. Example actions participants can take within the Social Outreach, Education & Inclusivity Performance Area include:
- Conduct a survey of your lake community to understand concerns and areas of interest
- Create educational and social opportunities by attending or hosting conferences, speaker nights, meet and greet evenings, and more
- Hosting topical collaborative meetings
- Listen to or attend a Blue Lakes webinar or other conservation and science forums
The Blue Lakes Program has put together a brief guide on using Talking Circles as a form of group governance as well as resources about good governance. You can launch the guide below!