2014 Grassroots Citizen Advocate Awards

2014 Grassroots Citizen Advocate Awards

2014 Grassroots Citizen Advocate Award

—In Memory of Charity Hicks

CharityHicksAwardPhotoIn July 2014, the Great Lakes lost one of our most amazing advocates, Charity Hicks.   Charity was killed in a hit and run accident in New York City while attending a conference.

Freshwater Future staff first met Charity when she participated in a Climate Symposium in Detroit in 2010.  Charity demonstrated how to start authentic conversations to talk about the tough issues—climate justice, food security, racism, and marginalization.  Her warm smile made you want to listen and her powerful intellect expanded your horizons, not to mention your vocabulary.

It was Charity’s role as a founder of the People’s Water Board, where we became better acquainted.  Many of our staff had the opportunity to work with Charity and other People’s Water Board members to guide them in developing a strategy and organization framework.  Charity fostered the culture of the People’s Water Board to insure it was diverse and focused on water as a human right and that consensus was the primary way decisions were made.  Charity was adamant that everyone had adequate time to talk and be heard!

Charity’s work on the Detroit water shut-offs helped to bring it to the attention of the United Nations.   As Charity stated on the Detroit water shut-offs “Your Human Dignity shouldn’t be truncated because you’re priced out of the commodification of an essential resource.”  Advocates in Detroit and elsewhere will continue her work and carry-on her hopeful voice and message to wage love.

We hope that this award will keep alive in our memories the important work accomplished during Charity Hicks life.


Bev Warner

Bev Warner

You know that person that always makes you smile? The one that is kind, generous and sincere? The one that exudes positivity and just by being around her you become a better person? Here at Freshwater Future we are fortunate to have that person in our ranks of volunteers.

Bev Warner has shared her positivity, kindness and hard work ethic with us for more than 7 years. Bev primarily helps us with our mailings whether it is newsletters, fundraising, grant announcements—she is always willing to help.

When Bev volunteers we get much more than help with administrative work. Being around Bev helps us to recharge. She is always interested to know how all of our projects are going and about the staff. She not only cares about our work and the organization, she cares about the people that work here.

Thank you Bev, for helping us work towards our mission and for helping us to be better people!

Margo Milde

Margo Milde never got lost in over 15 years of inventorying plant life in the Waukegan Harbor. Margo’s short stature made her well suited for this arduous task. Her friend and CAG leader, Susie Schreiber, threatened to put a bright orange bicycle flag on her backpack—not for Margo’s sake, but so she could find her!

Margo’s enthusiasm and determination for inventorying all the plants within the Waukegan Harbor Area of Concern and Extended Area of Concern resulted in her covering over 450 acres and finding 769 different species of plants. They weren’t just ordinary plants either. The inventory includes 15 Illinois State Endangered or Threatened Species and an additional 24 species that were deemed Plants of Concern by the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Why were so many plants important? Margo’s inventories gave quantitative support for the Waukegan Harbor Citizen Advisory Group’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative $1.43 million grant to restore and protect Bowen Park’s 10,000 year old ecological communities and the new dune and swale habitat forming in the Waukegan Dunal Area.

Not only has her work been integral to the Waukegan Harbor CAG, it has added to the inventory of the Morton Arboretum’s Herbarium collection, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plants of Concern inventory, helped guide the Waukegan Park District on best practices for ravine and natural areas land management in Bowen Park, and the discovery of Oake’s Primrose, a species that hadn’t been documented in over 100 years!

Margo’s diligence surveying hundreds of acres that included wetland and steep ravines and dunes proved how biologically diverse and valuable the ecosystems are within the Waukegan Harbor Area of Concern and Extended Area of Concern. On behalf of the plants, animals and humans living in the Lake Michigan Watershed of the Great Lakes we will be forever thankful.

HJCG sm group w signsHJCG woman girl

Highway J Citizens’ Group

Tenacity is a commonly shared trait of grassroots groups working in the Great Lakes and around the world. Thank goodness. One of the best examples of a group with this important trait is Highway J Citizens Group in Richfield, Wisconsin.

When the Wisconsin Department of Transportation proposed a road expansion in 2002 of Highway 164, Jeff Gonyo, Al Wilhemi and many others knew in their guts something was not right. They started to ask the tough questions—why is the expansion needed? What about the sensitive wetlands adjacent to the existing highway? What about wildlife that uses those wetlands? What about the important and unique geologic features that would be destroyed?

Through perseverance, hard work, and clever strategy, Highway J Citizens Group has won several victories and lawsuits related to the construction of the proposed road. The road has not been built and as a result, wetlands in the area remain healthy and vibrant.

The awareness of the potential environmental impacts from the road led the group to now address another environmental concern, contamination of drinking water from a nearby landfill. They are now involved in helping the residents of the Ackerville area get clean, safe drinking water and a clean-up of groundwater contamination.

Highway J Citizens Group inspires us to never give up! Thank you for helping make your corner of Wisconsin a healthier and better place to live.


Barbara King

What doesn’t Barbara King do? We at Freshwater Future often ask ourselves that question.

As the Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Watersheds, Barb has helped the organization grow. Her job description on their web site reads that she works in the “development, management and delivery of Shoreline Living Programs—this includes capacity building and training, development and delivery of hands-on workshops, creation of demonstration sites and management of shoreline stewardship programs in eastern Ontario.”

And that is not all!

Barbara is devoted to the preservation and smart environmental choices of Canada. On top of her role as Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Watersheds, she has been a contributor to Ontario Shoreline Stewardship, consulted with shoreline property owners to make sound decisions in improving the health of their properties, given workshops, and developed environmental training programs.

Oh, and did we also mention she is the cofounder of an environmental consulting company? Whew.

Barbara, thank you for all of the work you do in the region. We are lucky to have dedicated people like you ensuring safe and healthy shorelines for our waters.

Thank you Highway J Citizens Group for helping make your corner of Wisconsin a healthier and better place to live.
Barbara, thank you for all of the work you do in the region.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.