This past weekend, 110 delegates of Living Waters Rally 2014—representing recreational, indigenous, cottage association, faith, philanthropic, environmental, business, academic, and arts and culture groups from across Canada—came together to discuss the future of Canada’s freshwaters.
I had the opportunity to participate in several discussions and debates. Ironically, the Failures and Innovation panel that I hosted with Ecology Ottawa's Graham Saul and MEC's Andrew Stegemann seemed to be the most successful.
At the urging of the Freshwater Alliance’s Raj Gill, we talked about how awesome it is to fail.
Failure Feels Good
Failure is not something to fear.
Our Collective Failure
The most important thing that came out of our panel wasn’t just the acknowledgement that we are stronger people and stronger organizations when we embrace our "individual failures.” Rather, recognizing that the community of people seeking a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future has experienced a collective failure.
Sure, some of our organizations have done well. Some of our projects have done well. We have had successes. But we don’t have swimmable, drinkable, fishable water in Canada. With rollbacks to our environmental laws, declining investment in science and citizen involvement, we aren’t even on the right track.
That’s a failure and we need to talk about it more often.
By sparking a dialogue about what’s working and what isn’t, who is protected and who isn’t, we will hopefully build a larger, wiser, more diverse community of people seeking a clean water future.
As stated in the final press release:
“We invite many more people and organizations to be engaged in the protection and restoration of Canada’s freshwater. We will build and strengthen the water movement to ensure that all our waters are in good health—swimmable, drinkable and fishable.”