It seems like we’ve all been there — sitting in a meeting where the agenda is the same over and over again; or having that feeling of frustration when momentum for a project builds up only to run into familiar roadblocks; or knowing you need to pursue something different… just not sure what that something different looks like.
We get stuck.
Over the last few years, Freshwater has been working with organizations and agencies that find themselves in these and other situations, where it’s not necessarily the water resource science that’s presenting a challenge but the inherently human side of water resource management — balancing tradeoffs, resolving conflicting priorities, addressing power dynamics, identifying funding mechanisms, building towards shared understanding of goals and strategies, to name a few.
Our mission as an organization is to inspire and empower Minnesotans to value and protect freshwater resources, so in many ways it is not surprising that Freshwater finds itself doing more of this kind of work. We have recently facilitated farmer-driven conversations about how to protect groundwater and agricultural economies at the same time; helped Soil and Water Conservation Districts and state agencies identify ways to build needed capacity and improve conservation efforts; led state-level discussions to build broad coalitions around water policy and financing changes; helped local cities and counties better engage the public in developing plans that incorporate their local knowledge. And more.
We follow a few guiding principles in this important work:
- We all impact water, and so we all have a role to play in protecting and restoring water resources.
- People impacted by a challenge need to be involved in articulating that challenge and crafting solutions.
- We start by listening; we value the insights and experiences of others.
- We ask questions and use the answers to take action; the conversations we facilitate lead to real improvements for water quality and quantity.
- It’s worth the time it takes to build relationships and engage authentically.
Freshwater has been honored to partner with so many around the state in this work, serving as an independent, third-party convener to help people and groups get “unstuck” or navigate the people-centered work of protecting and restoring freshwater resources. Interested in learning more? Contact Jen Kader, senior program manager, for more details and a preliminary assessment of your situation and goals.