Winter Newsletter 2015

Great Lakes Commons is a community and network of commoners working in the spirit of our Great Lakes Commons Charter to awaken broad community care for the waters we share. Here is some news from around the bio-region.

Spring & Summer Water Walks

There are a number of water walks in the Great Lakes bioregion some starting as early as April 18th. See the growing list here for dates and locations. Every step is a prayer.

Milwaukee Water Commons

Milwaukee Water Commons catalyzes connection, collaboration and broad community leadership in our city on behalf of its waters. Shared benefit and shared responsibility are at the center of our vision of Milwaukee’s water future, and we believe everyone in every part of our community has a vital role to play.

Toward this vision, we’re working on three major projects over the next few months. In our Water School, we cultivate neighborhood water leadership throughout the city by combining water education with the development of community projects designed to connect water and everyday concerns like urban food, health and recreation.

In April, we’ll launch Water City 3.0, an innovative six-month series of engagements designed to activate an unusually wide range of organizations, sectors and individuals in a community visioning and planning process to shape Milwaukee’s water future. It will culminate in a town hall meeting this fall.

Finally, because we believe art and celebration are vital to connect people to water we integrate them in all we do. This August 9th, we will host the second annual We Are Water gathering, a multicultural lakefront celebration of our waters through music, dance and art.

If you haven’t yet seen the short video MWC, here it is. Joining two other GLC related videos at this year’s WaterDocs Festival in Toronto.

Toronto Water Commons

Great Lakes Commons work is taking off in Toronto. Last month, we hosted a Making Waves event to introduce our work and connect with people and organizations passionate about the lake, the ravines and river valley, and commons in the city. It was an afternoon of good connections, rich conversations, and questioning of what water commoning could look like in Toronto. 

Our upcoming workshop, Becoming Great Ancestors, will start to deepen those initial connections and to collectively explore the questions of what makes this Great Lakes Commons initiative different from most water protection and awareness efforts and how can a water-commons approach overcome many of the challenges for broad and meaningful public engagement. More information on our MeetUp

Check out our new website!

In February we re-launched our website to better reflect who we are and how you can get involved. The biggest visual difference are the photos, courtesy of you – our supporters.

So far we have photos from Daphne Randall, Nina Silver, Melanie Ariens, Eddee Daniel, Joe Peregrine, and Kathy Mead Skerritt. We’ve got a winter theme going on right now, but seasons change so we need your photos to inspire this Great Lakes Commons. 

We’ve also reorganized part of of the site to help you find what you need and present our ideas as best we can – including a series of videos. You can also browse a photo and bio from each of our team members who help keep this work alive across the bioregion. We are also grateful to all the newly listed Key Collaborators on the site too who have given so much to this initiative. – check it out!

Great Lakes Commons Map

One of the videos supported by our incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign was accepted into this year’s WaterDocs Festival. Becky Big Canoe and her team made a video about their sacred water walk last summer around Lakes Waawaasaegaming (Simcoe) & Couchiching. Check the program for full details.  There are 3 more videos coming soon from this crowdfunding campaign so thanks to all those who contributed.

We've had a slow down in the number of stories posted the Commons Map this winter, so please consider the map as a collaborative tool for this Great Lakes transition into a commons. Share you worry and your wisdom to help up/down stream neighbours connect and learn.

Bright Water Rising, Cleveland

Bright Water Rising is a community and project of participatory and artful co-inquiry around water in Cleveland. For this spring, Kathy Skerritt has been working with the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Tracey Lind, to organize a series of Dean's Forums that relate to the Great Lakes Commons Work. 

On Being a Water Body: Shared Destinies & Artful Means
Dean’s Forum, Sunday, April 12

Kathy Skerritt joins Dean Lind for an intriguing conversation about how exploration of our deepest sense of relationship with water may reframe how we use and steward this essential element. Starting from a presumption of love for the elemental world, the implications of our being water-bodies living on a water planet is considered along with how artful ways of knowing might reshape how we understand this relationship.

The Global Commons: Origins & Possibilities
Dean’s Forum, Sunday, April 26
The idea of the commons – those elements needed and shared by all - has existed in a legal form since the Roman Empire and as a principle of community life in Indigenous cultures for millennia. Leo Burke joins Dean Lind for a conversation about the emerging global commons movement and how reframing the waters of the Great Lakes Basin as a commons may offer the best hope for effectively stewarding them.
Dr. Leo Burke directs the Global Commons Initiative at the Mendoza College of Business, the University of Notre Dame. The Global Commons Initiative offers education on the commons both within Mendoza and in conjunction with partners such as the United Nations.

Water Walkers: Healing our Waters
Dean’s Forum, Sunday, June 21
Sharon Day will speak with Dean Lind about what it means to be a water woman in the Native American, Ojibwe tradition. They will discuss the 2015 Cuyahoga River Water Walk that she will lead beginning June 22 and how this walk may serve both the river and the people who live, work, and play around and on it. Sharon is Executive Director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force in Minnesota, founder of The Nibi Walk Project and has carried water from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico as well as led walks of the Ohio and St. Louis rivers. 

Presentations & Collaborations

In addition to the events listed in the newsletter, we've been reaching out and growing our network:

In November, Julie Ristau and Alexa Bradley presented at the Women’s Congress For Future Generations.

This month, Sue Chiblow presented at the Anishinaabemowin-Teg Language Conference in Sudbury. She also facilitated at the Chiefs of Ontario’s Following in the Footsteps of our Ancestors Elders and Youth Water Gathering in Sault Ste. Marie where participants from over 70 First Nations discussed the role of traditional ecological knowledge in protecting the Great Lakes.

In late April, we will be participating in the Water After Borders summit in Chicago.

In late May, Paul Baines will be presenting at the International Association for the Study of the Commons in Edmonton.

In late June, we will be on the Migration Water Walk along the St. Lawrence seaway and the Cuyahoga River Water Walk from the river's headwaters to Lake Erie. 
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