Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition Director Laura Rubin recently sent a personal note to members in response to the tragic murder of George Floyd. We wanted to share it with the broader Great Lakes community.

Dear HOW Coalition members and partners,

The murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis was another painful reminder of how entrenched racism is in our society and how much work remains to create a just and equitable society.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition believes that we all have a role to play – as individual citizens and as advocacy organizations – in reforming local, state, and federal institutions to break the cycle of injustice and oppression that people of color – especially Black people – experience on a daily basis.

The Coalition supports efforts to break down systemic racism and racist policies that inflict physical, economic, and environmental harm on people of color. And we support the front-line organizations working in local communities to put an end to the violence, pollution, and economic harm that have been perpetrated on people of color, especially Black and Indigenous Americans, since the founding of our country.

There are several front-line organizations in the 160-member Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition that work every day to advance social justice in all of our communities. We’ve listed several of them below, so that you can learn more about them. I encourage you to get to know the work of these organizations and familiarize and educate yourselves about the programs and history of these groups—because while we all have a role to play in creating this equitable and just society, these groups can show us the way.  Please consider providing financial support to them or volunteering with them in addition to learning more.

Flint Development Center: http://www.flintdc.org/ The center in Flint, Mich., provides facilities where the residents of Flint and Genesee County can safely engage in recreational, social, educational, cultural, community service, civic, and governmental activities.

Green Leadership Trust: http://www.greenleadershiptrust.org/ The Trust works to build an environmental and conservation movement that wins, focusing on building power and diversity in any advocacy sector.

Junction Coalition: https://junctionfunction419.wixsite.com/junctioncoalition The Coalition in Toledo, Ohio, provides a viable voice to neighbors to cultivate healthy relationships throughout the community. The Junction Coalition seeks to promote four fundamental pillars of environmental, economic, social justice and peace education with local, state, and federal government to build a better quality of life for community members and for business owners who benefit the Junction community.

Milwaukee Water Commons: https://www.milwaukeewatercommons.org/ Milwaukee Water Commons is a cross-city network that fosters connection, collaboration and broad community leadership on behalf of our common waters. The organization promotes the stewardship of, equitable access to, and shared decision-making for our common waters.

We the People of Detroit: https://www.wethepeopleofdetroit.com/ As a community-based grassroots organization, We the People of Detroit aims to inform, educate, and empower Detroit residents on imperative issues surrounding civil rights, land, water, education, and the democratic process.

Wisconsin Green Muslims: https://wisconsingreenmuslims.org/ The grassroots environmental justice group educates the Muslim community and the general public about the Islamic environmental justice teachings, to apply these teachings in daily life and to form coalitions with others working toward a just, healthy, peaceful and sustainable future.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is committed to supporting and elevating the work of groups on the front lines of environmental injustice, and to work alongside leaders of color. The Coalition also commits to use our collective power to promote just and equitable policies and federal investments that recognize the specific barriers people of color and Black people face in benefiting from clean, safe and affordable water, as well as access to nature.

If there are ways that I or the Coalition can be of help, please reach out to me. If there are groups who are working on the frontlines to overturn environmental and racial injustices, please let me know. I am committed to an inclusive Coalition that prioritizes the health and well-being of people and communities as we work to restore and protect our region’s rivers, streams, wetlands, and Great Lakes. And I am here for you.