A key component of ensuring that we are consistently moving the needle forward when it comes to reducing pollution is telling the story of the importance of on the ground restoration projects. This can be difficult since the projects and practices the Chesapeake community are advocating for are often confusing and jargon-filled concepts. A goal of the Coalition is to work with our members to overcome these barriers and identify ways that our community can better communicate and promote clean water projects around the watershed.
To support this effort, the Coalition partnered with Maryland LCV and the MOST Center on a Stormwater Success Stories outreach campaign. Maryland LCV and MOST Center worked together to produce the “POLLUTION SOLUTIONS: Case Stories from the Chesapeake” website. This interactive site is a tool that allows users to search through more than 50 different real-life pollution reducing projects in Maryland based on location or project type. The purpose is to provide a one stop shop for visitors to access and even download information on projects that can then be used for their promotional or educational purposes. Many Coalition members have downloaded project descriptions for use in meetings with their local governments to encourage support for stormwater projects in their own communities.
Knowing that members were using these one-pagers in meetings with elected officials, we wanted to ensure that we were setting our members up for success. The Coalition partnered with Maryland LCV to apply for funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to train our members on best practices when it comes to communicating about stormwater projects using these one-pagers. In September 2018, the Coalition hosted its first training with Water Words That Work and more than 20 members of the Coalition. The day-long event focused on training our members through interactive role playing exercises and provided our members with takeaways that they could use in future meetings. Many of the attendees were from Montgomery County, Maryland, where almost all of their County Council members are term limited, meaning a whole new group of council members will need to be educated on the importance of funding stormwater projects. This will be the perfect opportunity for Coalition members to execute what they have learned.
In addition, the Coalition is working with members who attended the first training in September and utilizing existing meetings and forums to continue to train more Coalition members. In partnership with EarthForum of Howard County, who attended the training, the Coalition is presenting at a half-day event on communicating about stormwater success stories and Maryland LCV and Rock Creek Conservancy, who also attended the first training, will also be conducting a training at the Chesapeake Watershed Forum in November 2018. The Coalition is looking forward to seeing these new tools and skills executed in real-time in the coming months and years as we push for stronger support for these on the ground restoration projects.