Increase the effectiveness of your local advocacy efforts while building a broader constituency to protect the Great Lakes!
Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network & Fund is pleased to introduce our 2005 theme – Great Lakes, Connecting Communities. Because many community-based groups lack the staff and funding needed to develop comprehensive communications of their own, GLAHNF and Biodiversity Project are working together to help your organization raise public awareness about local key issues, as well as draw attention to issues that plague the Great Lakes and their associated aquatic habitats and watersheds.
The enclosed educational flyer is an example of the type of tools designed to benefit your local work by highlighting connections to the Great Lakes.
Your participation will help your community see how their local aquatic habitat issues are linked to the broader Great Lakes, as well as to environmental concerns in communities throughout the basin.
We’d like to invite you to participate in a new and unique collaboration – The Great Lakes Connecting Communities Toolbox Project. The Toolbox Project evolved from a desire to build an engaged Great Lakes constituency – individuals that are ready and willing protect the Lakes at the community and regional level. This effort began in 2002, when Biodiversity Project hired a national public opinion research firm to gain a better understanding of the public’s connection to the Great Lakes. The resulting report, Protecting the Great Lakes: Responsibility to Awareness to Action, provides important data for anyone wishing to engage the public on the Lakes or aquatic issues locally and in the Great Lakes basin.
The good news is that the report tells us that people living in the Great Lakes region have a deep sense of pride for the Lakes and, better still, that 94% of respondents have a sense of responsibility for their health. Unfortunately, the basin-wide survey also highlighted a serious problem – the public did not understand any specific threats to the Lakes or have a sense of urgency about protecting them.
The health of our ecosystem is directly tied to how we, the residents, choose to live with the Lakes. Every choice we make about energy and water consumption, land use and invasive species management, even how we manage our yards and gardens, impacts the health of our precious ecosystem.
As you know, the Great Lakes are connected to each community within the Great Lakes Basin through surface and ground water. When you add in the many local issues – from land and water use to pollution – you have some complicated choices to make about a resource for which no single community can take responsibility.
By working together, our communications will engage the public to care about local issues, as well as their impact on the Great Lakes and their surrounding lands. Additionally, we will effectively convey the urgency, threats, and interconnected issues regarding their protection.
The Great Lakes – Connecting Communities Toolbox provides FREE, focused, ready-to-use content and communications products related to water quality and quantity issues, habitat protection and invasive species in the Great Lakes Basin. The collaborative effect of more than 200 community-based groups, like yours, in the Great Lakes Basin talking about aquatic habitat issues and their relationship to the Lakes in the same manner will raise the public profile of the Great Lakes’ value and their threats.We hope that this increased public concern for the Great Lakes will also lead to increased public involvement in the protection of both the Lakes and the aquatic resources in their watersheds.
With support from the Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) of the Environmental Protection Agency, GLAHNF and Biodiversity Project are making a limited number of Great Lakes Connecting Communities Toolbox CD-ROMs available to groups, like yours, working throughout the Great Lakes Basin. The combined value of these professionally developed tools is nearly $25,000, therefore we ask that you make an effort to use one or more of these products in 2005. The Great Lakes Connecting Communities Toolbox CD-ROM is free of charge and will be available in early 2005. The enclosed application outlines the types of materials that will be included in the free toolbox.