The FLOW, Winter 2015
This is the introductory article for the Winter 2015 River Alliance Newsletter. Download a pdf of the full newsletter.
Wish for – but ACT too – for Clean Water
We’ve all heard the expression; it’s a popular one. Often attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “The whole is greater than its parts” has been invoked to describe everything from the inner workings of cars to the systems of the human body to the very universe itself.
Here at River Alliance of Wisconsin, this quote summarizes something we do constantly. Sometimes it’s very purposeful and deliberate, on other occasions it’s just second nature because of how central it is to how we approach tasks both large and small. It’s collaboration, and it forms the very core of how we work each and every day toward our mission to save rivers.
In this issue of The FLOW, we highlight some of the bigger forms that collaboration takes as it relates to the serious and important work of protecting Wisconsin’s wondrous waterways. We offer you a closer look at the La Crosse Area Aquatic Invasive Species Partnerships, which counts over two dozen (and counting) partner organizations working together – from government and education to business and conservation – to turn the tide on invasive species and their negative impacts on our waters and ecosystems (page 3).
In terms of meaningful collaboration between conservation interests and businesses, we highlight the Blue Water Business Consortium and the ways in which clean water is a critical economic driver for a diverse array of businesses across the state, including but certainly not limited to Wisconsin’s major tourism industry (page 5). When it comes to ensuring all key stakeholders have a seat at the table, the collaboration of the various groups involved in our Wisconsin River Initiative personifies the concept of an engaged citizenry working together to find a common voice to impact natural resource policy on the Wisconsin River (page 6).
Then there’s the unusual partnership of the River Alliance with a former (mostly friendly) nemesis, dam owner North American Hydro. That kumbaya is highlighted on page 4.
We don’t have the space to describe the many other less formal or less developed collaborations that amplify our river conservation work. But the stories featured here are great examples of how, for River Alliance and our many partners and friends, collaboration is so much more than a feel good buzzword – it is nothing less than the heart of a very big and very complex system. And though its vast number of individual parts are pretty incredible, we are all infinitely greater working together as a whole.
Collaboration isn’t new to us; in fact, it is in our genetic code. A few weeks ago, our good friend and River Alliance co-founder Steve Born dropped off a sheaf of his notes and documents and sundry files from the River Alliance’s early days. In the pile was a conference proceedings, “A Gathering For the Rivers,” from October 1994, about a year after our launching. It was a collaborative effort of government and nonprofit types and ordinary citizens designed to “shape the future of Wisconsin’s rivers.”
We believe we have done just that, mostly for the good, and not without the help of thousands of collaborators.