the deep connection with the Great Lakes is something millions of people across eight states and two Canadian Provinces have in common.
The marble exchange is just part of a one-hour celebration designed to create a conversation in every community on the Great Lakes, to bring the attention and support necessary to keep the lakes healthy.
“Love them, protect them, link hands for them,” says Kimberly Simon, the mastermind behind the “All Hands On Deck” celebration. A retired art teacher in Charlevoix, MI, she had no experience in political advocacy until she learned the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative had been eliminated in the Administration’s Fiscal 2018 budget.
“I promised myself I would learn how to write letters, make phone calls, and let the politicians know these lakes are important,” she said. “But I wanted to do more. I wanted to create something positive to draw us together, something uplifting, something that would be good for the soul. I had this vision of people joining hands across the entire shoreline of the Great Lakes, united in support of our water.”
She began sharing her vision with others. In less than a month, over 1300 volunteers and 32 leaders, or “Captains” as she calls those spearheading community-wide celebrations, joined the team transitioning that vision into reality.
One of the “Captains” leading the Detroit celebration is Kathy Krauskpof.
“I grew up in the Detroit area but never knew how beautiful the Detroit River was until I got a job working at the Renaissance Center downtown, overlooking the river. I had a profound sense of peace every time I walked the riverfront, sat and watched the ships go by, or saw hundreds of fishermen pursuing the ten million walleye that swim upstream during spawning season. These lakes and adjoining rivers touch so many people on so many different levels. When I heard about the funding cuts, I knew I had to do something.”
Kathy reserved a beach on Belle Isle Park and on the wetlands adjacent to the Detroit Riverwalk for two distinct celebrations in Detroit on July 3rd.
“Our plans include providing a jar for blue marble exchanges; a bedsheet on which people can draw the imprint of their hand and place their name and zipcode inside—something we hope to share with Congressional Representatives voting on funding for the Great Lakes; postcards or petitions people can sign and mail to elected officials. I’ve invited Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters to participate—either in our gathering or another. I also hope to engage our newly-elected Congressman. And at some point, we will hold hands, chant, and be present with the water, just as Kimberly imagined.”
Another Captain, Holly Henn, and her team are organizing the Ohio coastline, with events scheduled for Oak Harbor, Port Clinton, Lakeside/Marblehead, and Catawba Island.
“Our team decided to reach out to people who own businesses on Lake Erie, people who depend on a clean, healthy lake for their businesses to prosper. We’re asking them to participate, to help spread the word, and to let people gather on their property for an hour to celebrate this lake.”
Holly grew up near Lake Erie and remembers waterskiing and camping almost every weekend when she was a child.
“We never had to worry about algal blooms, or getting water in our mouths. Now, the lake is in trouble and the Administration is pulling funding from the very programs needed to restore it! When I read about this event on Facebook, I was happy to sign up as a Captain.”
The celebration includes boaters as well as beachgoers.
“Boaters are some of the biggest proponents for clean water,” Kimberly said. “We’re asking them to hoist a navy-blue flag or pennant on July 3rd to show their support for the Great Lakes.”
Everyone can participate, even if there is no formal event nearby. As you gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our country, bring a blue marble. Trade it—sharing your favorite memory of a Great Lake with another’s. If you’re a boater, hoist a blue flag alongside the American flag. And fly it all season. Both flags represent home—a home that is worth protecting.
“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the ocean in a drop,” wrote the famous poet, Rumi.
Or, perhaps we are the Great Lakes in a marble.
marbles during cocktail hours in the cockpit of our sailboat throughout the season.)
In addition, please consider posting the following announcement on bulletin boards throughout your community and sending a copy to your elected officials, inviting them to join in the July 3rd festivities—either with you, your community, or with their family. All they need bring is a blue marble.
July 3rd Celebration in Support of the Great Lakes
On Saturday, July 3rd, at 10:00 a.m. EDT, join the “All Hands on Deck” celebration occurring across all 10,900 miles of Great Lakes shoreline.
As you gather with family and friends on beaches, docks, boats, and decks to celebrate the birth of our country, bring a blue marble. Trade it—sharing your favorite memory of a Great Lake with another’s. If you’re a boater, hoist a blue flag alongside the American flag. Both represent home—a home that is worth protecting.
The marble exchange and blue flags are just part of a one-hour celebration designed to create a conversation in every community on the Great Lakes, to bring the attention and financial support necessary to keep the lakes healthy.
To learn more, visit: http://www.allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org
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