Monday, October 30, 2006

Act for Healthy Rivers' course is set - so we hope

Though nothing is finalized, it feels like we're at least one step closer to choosing the direction of the (btw, = Act for Healthy Rivers)

No longer will groups pledge their support of 30+ things when they endorse Citizens Agenda for Rivers—slightly ambitious, wouldn’t you say? This was one of the earlier efforts to mobilize the river movement. All in all successful on many levels from what I understand, but the biggest take away for us was River Lobby Day.

Since then, the challenge for us has been how do we build on this momentum around one single issue, sewage in our rivers. When we sent the Request for Proposal out to 10+ firms in July 2006, we had in mind a website with password protected corners to serve river groups. As a resource to these river groups, we wanted to provide a platform for groups to share their experiences, engage one another, and most importantly, take action.

We met with Development Seed again last Friday to follow up on a conversation that I had with them earlier in the week. We went through a second round (review our first meeting) of what we wanted and what we thought we wanted from a site, only in the end to receive a little tough love—which we needed.

The fundamental challenge for us was balancing the altruistic nature of our intentions, river groups uniting to combat shit in our rivers, with the reality that most of Joe public isn't aware of the issue.

I searched Google News for ‘sewage spills’ and there were over 400 articles. October 26th's headline: “More than 2.7 million gallons of untreated sewage leaked or spilled from pipes in the Cape Fear region in the past year. Most of it ran into our creeks and rivers.” Yuk.

Anyhow, in attempt to address the need of creating buzz with a site that provides a lot of useful information, we're exploring two COMPLETELY different websites (because they are different audiences) for this particular campaign.

One being the subversive, if not childish, attempt at making this effort go viral, and two, providing the sound background information needed to justify the seriousness of our overall effort to organize river groups and provide useful information for groups to take back to their constituents.

But when this is all said and done, how childish can we be? Um, unsure at this point until we pitch the idea to senior staff. And have the Steering Committee get on board. Cross your fingers.

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