Mission and Goals

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The Great Lakes belong to all of us.

Water is our common heritage that belongs to all of us and is owned by no one. Applying public trust policies to our current threats, FLOW and other partners will work together to preserve this heritage and chart a new and better course for our generation and generations to come.

Everything we do is reflected in our name: For Love of Water or simply “FLOW.” Our mission is to safeguard the Great Lakes, the planet’s largest freshwater lake system and the very lifeblood of the Midwest, by advancing public trust solutions and cutting-edge policy work. Through our targeted policy initiatives, FLOW has built key partnerships with state and regional Great Lakes groups, leveraged our expertise to influence agencies and impact state and federal legislation, and grown to be a trusted source of current information on issues affecting our freshwater seas.

Our work is a valuable resource to the many leaders and citizens who contact us and seek assistance in protecting their communities from the impacts of fracking, preventing a catastrophic oil pipeline spill in the Straits of Mackinac, or identifying effective legal strategies to prevent illegal water diversions out of the Great Lakes Basin watershed.

FLOW’s solution-oriented mission and work come at a time when the health of the Great Lakes hangs in the balance, and citizens and leaders are looking for viable long-term policies to improve and protect these common waters. FLOW’s mission is to do just this: educate citizens and government leaders about the power of the public trust as a key legal strategy for preserving our waters as a shared resource.

We believe our work is inspiring growing conversations about using the public trust as an overarching framework to ensure long-term protection of our air, water, and land resources.

Our Mission: Our mission at FLOW is to protect the common waters of the Great Lakes Basin through public trust solutions. As the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education center, we demonstrate how policies like the public trust and commons can provide an overarching policy framework that empowers decision-makers to safeguard 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. FLOW’s groundbreaking policy work demonstrates how the public trust empowers decision-makers to protect these majestic waters by equitably balancing competing users, buttressing the federal government’s billion-dollar Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) investment, and heralding the lakes as a living dynamic ecosystem. FLOW develops policy programs and educates high-level decision-makers, city and community leaders, and citizens to adopt and incorporate public trust ideas into decisions affecting water, energy, food, and climate change in the Great Lakes.

Our Philosophy and Core Objectives Our philosophy is simple: if we treat water as a commons, recognizing both public and private rights, we can ultimately drive better decisions in all other sectors because everything depends on water. To create policy solutions that improve the health and economy of the Great Lakes, FLOW maintains five core objectives. They are to: (1) research and disseminate knowledge of the public trust as it applies to real problems facing the Great Lakes, (2) increase public awareness and knowledge of the Great Lakes as a commons owned and shared by the public, (3) develop holistic public trust policy models and templates to solve real problems; (4) leverage opportunities for collaboration with local and regional partners to protect 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water in the Great Lakes Basin, and (5) secure broad and diverse funding support.

Our Vision: We seek to (1) improve law and policy systems that protect the water in the Great Lakes Basin from the systemic threats that diminish the quality of water and quality of life for citizens in Michigan, and (2) build a movement that strengthens and inspires education and application of the public trust and commons for the benefit of current and future generations.