Dare to Envision the Dream

Mar 25, 2015 | Citizen Advocacy

I had the honor to meet pioneer Marion Stoddart, founder, Nashua River Watershed Association at the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention. In the early sixties Marion advocated for the cleanup of the Nashua River – one of the nation’s most polluted. She succeeded!

At 87 years young she is still as passionate about being an advocate for clean water as she was 50 years ago. At the convention, she inspired all of us to “dare to envision the dream, create a vision of what you to accomplish and be the change you want to bring about.” She also shared her top ten lessons from her decades of being a successful advocate.

Marion Stoddart’s Lessons Learned

  • Have a vision for what you want to accomplish.
  • Commit to the vision – the change you want to bring about.
  • The more passion you bring to your work the more successful you will be.
  • There is no need to be super smart, or super “anything,” just committed.
  • Surround yourself with positive people so you can get good work done together.
  • Educate yourself. Learn all you can about your water and the issues in your watershed.
  • Educate citizens, government officials, leaders and legislators – be their source of information.
  • Be open to possibility, which can lead unlikely partners and cooperation. She shared an example of building a friendship with a paper mill employee who told her, “I’m tired of wearing the black hat. I want to wear the white hat.”
  • Ask for what you want, not what you are willing to settle for. (This lesson came to her by way of the lieutenant governor at the time when she was debating about asking for the river to be swimmable).
  • The job is never done. Protection in a long-term endeavor.

With all of the challenges we have in Wisconsin right now, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Marion’s story reminds me that the right attitude, relationships, and persistence can conquer any challenge we face.

I encourage you to hear Marion’s inspiring story yourself by watching an excerpt the documentary, The Work of 1000, which we showed at our Wild & Scenic Film Festival several years ago. You can also learn more on the Work of 1000 and Nashua River Watershed Association websites. I dare you to not be inspired to envision your own dream after watching the film.

– Allison Werner, Local Groups Director