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Blogs / Ian Fitzgibbon / Driving community change from the bottom of the seafloor up

Driving community change from the bottom of the seafloor up

You have probably heard the term working from the bottom up.
This is often used when referring to invoking or inspiring community action on
environmental issues at the community level. The Chesopeake Bay Foundation has
done just that without relying solely on government support, showing a working
and successful model which may well work for living in a world of climate
change.

When faced with the threat of losing a beach or a significant
animal people often speak up, shout out “Save our beach, Save our whales” or in
Chesopeake’s case “Save the Bay.” Faced with losing significant marine species,
beaches and ever reducing water quality the community of Chesopeake Bay
established the Chesopeake Bay Foundation (CBF). The CBF have established a
philanthropic trust, built a world class environmental building and as a result
a business model to become self perpetuating. So how have they done this when
in much of the Chesopeake Bay area much of the coast is privately owned and
people have had little connection to the coast and the environmental issues?

A collective of locals banded together and helped raise
funds to buy a piece of land on the coast. There they have built one of the
first LEED Platinum buildings, which is used for environmental education to
provide people with connection to the coast, running University classes and
school field trips from the Centre. The site is also used for catering events
which provides a valuable income stream.

So what are the key take away messages and how can you use
this example to invoke community action from the bottom up? The key messages I
have taken away are:

*Establish a connection – Make it personal, when people are connected
their hearts lead the mind.

*Raise awareness of the issue – Don’t assume knowledge, make
people aware of threats to the environment.

*Create partnerships – establish a good business case and
partnerships for long term success.

This is a great example of a citizen intiative, where they
have raised awareness and raised the funds to become the caretakers for the
coast. The parallels to living in a world of climate change are many, we must
get people connected to local climate change issues, raise awareness of the
threats and create partnerships to develop long term success.

For more information on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation visit www.cbf.org

Comments

Laura Hagg
Laura Hagg said

Thanks Ian for the post. I especially like the first message of establishing a connection and making it personal. People do need to personally relate to an issue before they will take action. Thanks again and I look forward to reading more blog posts!

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