Floridians Converge at Citizens Clean Water Summit

On November 16th, 2013 over 250 water activists converged at the UCF Alumni Center for the Citizens Clean Water Summit. An action planning conference on how we as Floridians can organize on a collective front to fight for our right to clean waterways. There were 15 IDEAS For Us members present at the event to take part in this collaborative effort.

IDEAS For Us was one of the over 20 organizations on the planning team who collaborated to create the summit mission, agenda and goals. The ultimate goal was to “send summit attendees back to their respective organizations with the tools and contacts to organize coordinated regional and statewide action,” said Sierra Club organizer Cris Costello. A Floridian’s Clean Water Declaration was conceptualized to signify the creation of a collective voice for our water rights.

Breakout sessions and workshops created the space for activists to gain information and tactics on various coalition building topics including ‘Engaging Youth in the Movement’ which was lead by Clayton Ferrara and Chris Castro of IDEAS For Us in conjunction with River Kidz.

There were regional plenary sessions aimed to plan localized events that will take place simultaneously throughout the state in January with the goal of raising awareness for our waterways. Then in February the message will be taken to Tallahassee, advocating for policy change to protect our water rights.

The day ended with a Rally lead by IDEAS For Us to celebrate our collective voices and give thanks to the action planning at the summit. Stephen Lavalah, an IREX (International Research & Exchanges Board) fellow with IDEAS For Us from Liberia reflected, “We need to see those who pollute our water as critical partners in helping us accomplish our ultimate desire to ensure access to clean water for all.”

The hopes of this summit are that solidarity is built across the state in the water movement, that a framework for mobilizing is developed and a progression of concerted activities take place across the state to bring the full force of the clean water movement directly to decision makers.