Our Shared Waters - Then and Now
Updated: Jun 7
Friends, what a difference a year makes! My first blog post for Our Shared Waters was published in May 2021 when I was the director of the Delaware River Watershed Program for Audubon. Today in May 2022, I am the director of external affairs and communications for the Delaware River Basin Commission and leading the Our Shared Waters initiative, so my involvement has come full circle. I think after two years at the height of a global pandemic where connecting with each other has been so challenging, we’re all ready for a bit of a fresh start. That’s why I’m excited to share with you the ways in which Our Shared Waters is heading into a new phase of collaboration with both existing valued partners and new prospective partners alike.
Recently we held a webinar with those stakeholders of Our Shared Waters to regroup on our efforts to educate and engage the public about the role we all play ensuring the sustainability of the Delaware River and its watersheds. There were some key takeaways from this conversation that we will begin implementing and hope you will join us along the way to offer your input.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all get creative about communicating and connecting with our audiences, and while we’ve learned some good lessons about the content and engagement people want, in-person interaction is powerful. Home crafts, virtual lessons and things we can do on our own are great and most of us will continue to make them available, but there’s no substitute for the energy and enthusiasm that sparks when we’re on a sail, cleaning up a watershed, or at a community festival with hands-on activities with kids. That’s why we’ll be doubling down on co-hosted events with partners, opportunities to get out on the Delaware such as our summer season sojourns, and more. Our approach has to be: “Yes, and…” when it comes to all the ways we can reach and engage people.
We must continue to expand access and equity around the Delaware River Basin. The pandemic highlighted and exacerbated broad and deep inequities in our society and we all need to do more to break down these barriers. Environmental justice must be a priority as we work to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to experience Our Shared Waters. This especially includes the Basin’s urban waters, where quality continues to be challenged by nutrients, bacteria, chemicals, salt, litter and microplastics. Considering these issues as well as increased flooding, it’s clear that water safety issues must be a priority for historically disconnected communities as efforts to increase access move forward. Our Shared Waters means exactly that.
Everyone has a stake in the health and sustainability of the Delaware River Watershed. We need to understand how communities, partners and others relate to this ownership and communicate in that context, meeting people where they are. Brewers need clean water as a key ingredient for their beer offerings. Recreation companies need a clean and healthy environment to offer outings that will allow people to experience kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and beyond to make their living and contribute to our local economy. DRBC needs to monitor water quality, salinity and other factors to keep the water, and our human and wildlife populations, healthy. From the Appalachian Mountain Club to the Delaware Nature Society and beyond, we talked about how we can work together on more educational opportunities that combine our shared experience and expertise in ways that resonate with the public.
I’m so proud to be at the helm of Our Shared Waters and working with you all to “protect, appreciate and enjoy” the Delaware River Basin. I plan to continue these important conversations to incorporate all voices and feedback into our mission. Please join me out on the water or in conversation: firstname.lastname@example.org