Written by: Shannon Hicks
Water connects us. Even when someone is on an island, they’re just a wade, or a swim, or a canoe ride away from others. If that analogy doesn’t convince you that water connects us, then remember that we all need drinking water to exist. There is no exception to the hard and fast rule that water is essential to human life.
Through our needs, we find connections that help us thrive as humans. The West Michigan Environmental Action Council values Michigan’s streams, rivers, and lakes, working tirelessly to ensure that they are protected for years to come. While our passion fuels our work, there are also costs involved in water protection. One way that WMEAC raises water protection funds each year is by hosting our Blue Tie Ball. The Blue Tie Ball, held on April 26th this year, includes dinner, live music, environmental awards and an auction. The Blue Tie Ball funds this year will go towards four distinct WMEAC programs.
Teach for the Watershed. We believe that environmental science education is best done out of the classroom and in the field. WMEAC staff and volunteers interact with over 3,000 students in West Michigan annually. We accomplish our central goal of teaching students to appreciate and care for the natural world by working with them to collect and analyze water from local streams, gather and study macroinvertebrates, identify and remove invasive species, and connect their actions to the health of their local streams.
Green Infrastructure Workshops (Rain Barrels, Rain Gardens and more). We’ve seen the profound effects of re-using rainwater on our lawns and gardens. Rain barrels can be an effective way for households to manage community stormwater issues and improve water quality. In addition, WMEAC has been working with schools and communities to develop and maintain gardens that divert and absorb excess rainwater.
Rainwater Rewards. Municipalities from Grand Rapids to Michigan City, IN and Milwaukee, WI are lining up to use this online tool created by WMEAC. The stormwater calculator shows the value of green infrastructure investments by considering flood risk, water and air pollution reduction, increasing property values, carbon dioxide storage, and energy savings.
Water Trails. The Grand River is Michigan’s longest river system. Therefore, it is vitally important to ensure the river’s water quality, for the sake of the river environment itself and also for the sake of Lake Michigan. WMEAC encourages recreational use of the river so that Michigan residents become more familiar with the threats to the health of the Grand River and invested in the solutions. We already have two water trail improvement plans and a goal to broaden the range of these improvements.
WMEAC was organized 50 years ago to ensure that West Michiganders have a voice in protecting their water and natural world. Our volunteers and donors make a difference in our Michigan communities. By making that difference, we connect with one another and then together we enhance our connection with the natural world, especially all of the bountiful waterways that we are privileged to have here in West Michigan. Please join us at this year’s Blue Tie Ball, Thursday, April 26 at the Goei Center. Purchase tickets here.
Click here for more information about the Blue Tie Ball.