Our Shared Resilience with the Great Lakes

By Jessica Gordon, Swim Drink Fish

The waters of the Great Lakes basin are tough. They’ve been harmed by human activities, but humans also have helped them bounce back. The relationships that people have with these bodies of water can remind us of the importance of resiliency. Three individuals shared their stories as part of the ongoing Watermark Project and tell of a reciprocal relationship: While we can restore and rehabilitate these waters, they also can restore and rejuvenate us.

For Karlin Danielsen, the Huron River is her place of restoration. Danielsen feels that her wellness is tied to the river’s. For Danielsen, this means that “every action we take to support the well-being of our waterways then in turn helps their health and helps support our own health and well-being.”

Jim Howe works at The Nature Conservancy, which runs a Coastal Resilience program that focuses on nature’s role in reducing coastal flood risk. Howe says Hemlock Lake in the Finger Lakes in New York can rekindle his spirit. “It’s so important to connect with water, to be in it and on it, and that’s something that I’ve always treasured about living in upstate New York.”

In the military, Es Jimenez traveled the world and witnessed firsthand the importance of access to drinkable water. However, it was caring for and helping protect the waters of the Niagara River that gave Jimenez an opportunity to heal. “I feel more connected to this land and to the water just by doing what I do.”

There are many stories in the Watermark Project Archive about the powerful ability of a body of water to revive itself and people connected to it. The IJC began partnering with Swim Drink Fish (formerly Lake Ontario Waterkeeper) in 2016 to help collect Watermarks from the Great Lakes.

To express why a waterbody you care about is important to you, submit your own Watermark here or browse the archive for more stories about the important role water plays in our lives and communities.

Jessica Gordon is collections coordinator for the Watermark Project, an initiative of Swim Drink Fish in Toronto, Ontario.

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