We are so thrilled to share our 2020/21 Annual Report for the Our Living Waters Network!
Our report can be found here, and the introduction to the report from Andrew, the Director of OLW, can be seen both in the report itself and right below!
The Soul of a Network: Relationships
On March 16th, 2020 with the pandemic entering the ‘oh, this is for real’ phase, our collective nervous system was grappling with newly imposed lockdowns, the shock of global uncertainty, and the health implications for those we care for. At Our Living Waters, we had scheduled a collaborative meeting of 15 freshwater champions and were agonizing over whether to cancel given all of… that. Was this really important right now? Who would show up? We decided to continue, and to our pleasant surprise, almost everyone logged on to Zoom. We held space for a check in—the official agenda item was “Hellos (in a crazy world)”— and found that people were eager to talk. To connect. We heard worries about the economic impact on the nonprofit sector, reflections on how hard it was to stop checking the news, and honest admissions to feeling frazzled trying to balance work with parenting. We also heard how thankful this group was for each other. About how people were excited to collaborate and find the opportunity in the crisis, even if we weren’t quite sure what that looked like yet.
A good network is built on trust. Of course, our common goal is important, uniting us in service to the waters we love. But a crucial ingredient for our effectiveness emerges, like alchemy, through the magic of relationships—how we relate to each other and to the natural world. The collaborative ground that is the OLW Network won’t succeed without fostering an environment where at the beginning of a meeting, people are excited to really see each other, even if it is on Zoom. Yes, we’re taking collective action for our waters, but we're also building relationships, which is too often missing in the nonprofit world where unfortunately many groups are incentivized to compete with each other (e.g. for the same pots of money). As one OLW Network member recently wrote in an evaluation survey, “Working together as a team made change feel possible. I am so pleased to be part of a group that shows up because they care so deeply. It is nice to feel like we're all on the same team, rather than in competition! The sense of community has been remarkable.”
2020 has been a lot, it’s true. It happens to be the year my second daughter was born, so it’s hard for me to be too hard on 2020. It’s also a year that has highlighted how important our relationships are and how the soul of the OLW Network lies in the relationships we foster. I hope we capture some of that relationality in this annual report, and look forward to continuing this journey together into 2021 and beyond.
To all our members and to the entire freshwater community, thank you for all you do!
Director, Our Living Waters (he/him)