Tag: Advocacy

New Book: A Great Lakes Journey Toward Advocacy


 Author Mary McKSchmidt will discuss and read from her new book, Uncharted Waters: Romance, Adventure, and Advocacy on the Great Lakes, Saturday, Oct. 13 from 1-3 p.m. at Horizon Books in Traverse City.


Mary McKSchmidt is an adventurer—a woman who has wandered across southern Africa; achieved success in positions typically held by men; hikes, bikes, and camps alone; and joins her fun-loving, equally-adventuresome husband on sailing voyages across the sometimes treacherous, always unpredictable, waters of Lake Michigan. When she discovered that Lake Michigan and all the Great Lakes are at risk, potentially damaged beyond repair, she replaced her briefcase, calculator, and business suit with a notepad, camera, and foul weather gear and embarked on a new adventure, this time to help create the political will necessary to clean up and protect the lakes.

McKSchmidt’s Uncharted Waters is the story of a Fortune 500 executive learning to sail, learning to love, and learning to fight for the water and life she holds dear. It’s not just a love story, but also a call to action. It serves as a reminder that while we can live without many things, clean, safe drinking water is not one of them.

FLOW asked Mary to explain how citizens can get active to protect the Lakes.

“I have yet to meet anyone who has touched the waters of the Great Lakes, seen their beauty on a clear, sunshiny day, or experienced the joy of sharing a picnic with family along their shores, who does not care deeply about the future of the Great Lakes,” she began. “These lakes are not a Republican or Democrat issue, not an issue for liberals or conservatives. These lakes are an issue of life and health.”

She continued: “And yet, the Great Lakes are at risk. Their future depends on us—on our ability to ignore the threads of apathy, cynicism, or despair running through us. We are their voices.”

In this election year, she said, citizens can do three things:

  • “Vote. No vote, no voice. But vote on behalf of the Great Lakes. Support only those candidates willing to fund their cleanup, willing to commit to making access to clean, safe drinking water a top priority.”
  • “Support nonprofit organizations advocating on behalf of our lakes and our watersheds. Representing thousands of voices, these organizations bring power to the negotiating table. And facts. Like lighthouses guiding us through the turbulence of the legislative and political arenas fundamental to our democracy, these organizations stay abreast of the many issues plaguing the lakes. They tell us when our signature on a petition or presence at a public hearing can influence change.”
  • “Pick up balloon ribbons and trash littering our beaches, our dunes, and our waterways. Something this simple serves as a reminder. Little things matter.”

She added, “Just as I must balance the forces of nature while behind the wheel of a sailboat, I discover I must heed the voice of my heart as well as my mind to reach those I hope to engage in creating the political will necessary to prioritize the lakes so integral to our lives, so easy to take for granted.”

Mary is a former executive for Baxter Healthcare, a Fortune 500 company, who writes under the pen name “Mary McKSchmidt.” She is a contributor to Michigan Blue and Sail magazines, a former columnist for The Holland Sentinel, and has written op-ed pieces for MLive. Her essay “Behind the Lens of a Camera” was also selected to appear in the 2016 Bear River Review.

The poet and photographer of Tiny Treasures: Discoveries Made Along the Lake Michigan Coast, along with her 2018 release Uncharted Waters: Romance, Adventure, and Advocacy on the Great Lakes, Schmidt is a natural storyteller who has shared her adventures with audiences at garden clubs, professional women’s organizations, state and county nature centers, assisted-living facilities, and environmental organizations throughout West Michigan. Her monthly blog and “Skosh of Poetry” may be found at www.marymckschmidt.com.


FLOW and Jim Olson Featured on MyNorth.com

Northern Michigan Environment: Jim Olson on FLOW for Water

Nationally renowned environmental attorney Jim Olson gives a quick overview of his new Great Lakes water advocacy group FLOW, based in Traverse City.

 

By Jeff Smith

March 25, 2013

Click here to read the article on MyNorth.com

TRAVERSE CITY – Northern Michigan Outdoors: We last checked in with environmental attorney Jim Olson in late 2011, when the nationally renowned water law expert was launching a nonprofit called FLOW, for the love of water. The group’s mission is to promote new legal protections for water based on public trust principles, principles that he says lie at the very foundation of Western environmental law. Boiled to the essence, the principle asserts that water should be governed so that everybody can use the water, but nobody can use water in a way that renders it unusable for others (like, say, pollute the water or over-draw the water). (Get a more in-depth explanation here: mynorth.com/My-North/August-2011/Traverse-City-Attorney-is-Defender-of-Global-Water/). The public trust principles sound like common sense and simple enough, but in practice not so easy to get through a legislature.

Olson has been promoting public trust protection of water for more than 30 years. Back when he started, few people took him seriously, but over the decades and through his tireless efforts, his ideas have become part of the national and international water management dialog.

We checked in with Olson on a recent snowy Traverse City afternoon to see how things have progressed since we last spoke.

What’s the biggest victory FLOW has had since we last spoke?

Olson: In December 2011 we met with the International Joint Commission, which is a U.S. and Canadian board that has legal authority to set laws for Great Lakes water, and presented our ideas. They invited us to Washington D.C. and gave us a private hearing, which is a rare event. We followed up with a report to the Environmental Protection Agency and to the president’s coastal policy board. We also published an article in the Vermont Law Journal.

Water levels in the Great Lakes are on everybody’s minds these days—landowners, freighter ship captains, environmentalists—are you doing anything in that realm?

Olson: In fall of 2012 we submitted comments to the IJC about how public trust principles can be applied to water level decisions. These are complex and multi-layered challenges and public trust principles offer a profound limitation to possible abuses.

What was your approach in your comments?

Olson: We took each threat to the Great Lakes and looked at how public trust would affect that particular issue, how public trust principles would play out in the real world to get a good result.

What about on the FLOW organization side, what’s to report there?

Olson: We now have 17 board members and two paid staff. Liz Kirkwood is our executive director and Allison Voglesong is doing our communications. They are a couple of very dynamic people and really doing a great job.

What do you see as some of the specific issues you’ll be tackling in coming months?

Olson: Water levels, certainly. And we are looking for the ability to use local regulations to protect against fracking. Nutrient loading into the Great Lakes is important. How the energy and water and climate interaction will affect water in the Great Lakes.

Obviously the biggest environmental issue of our time is climate change—is there a connection to public trust principles there?

Olson: The Great Lakes are at an all-time low, and many people think climate change is largely to blame. We are looking closely at the hydrologic cycle. If you think about it, excess evaporation due to climate change is actually a diversion of some sort.