On Tuesday, April 4, I begin work at an organization of growing strength and influence in the battle to protect the Great Lakes, Traverse City-based FLOW.
In a 35-year career defending the environment, I’ve never lived through times of such profound challenge — and opportunity. The Great Lakes, in particular, and all they mean to us economically, environmentally and personally are at grave risk.
FLOW brings to protection of the Great Lakes and other natural resources something no other group does: a focus on a centuries-old, often overlooked tool called the public trust doctrine, which imposes a duty on the government to protect commonly held resources for the public good. By asserting it in the courts, deploying it in legislative debates, and educating the public about it, FLOW brings to life a potent force for good. The public trust doctrine is not only a shield strong enough to fend off attacks but also a tool useful in advancing protection of the Great Lakes.
FLOW has already demonstrated its effectiveness as part of the coalition seeking to decommission the dangerous Line 5 pipeline crossing the Straits of Mackinac. FLOW has provided weighty technical and legal support to the campaign.
The president and founder of FLOW, Jim Olson, is a nationally recognized legend in the field of environmental law. Executive Director Liz Kirkwood is a brilliant strategist. The rest of the staff and the board bring to this work an assortment of strengths in fund development, science, social media, engineering, law and public policy.
FLOW will make a sustained impact for good in protection of the Great Lakes.
In the end, my choice about where to work is based on personal experience. At the beginning of my career, after a night camping on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior, I knew my life’s work was to make sure people 500 years from now could experience the same wonder. And that’s why I want to take the next step in my career at FLOW. FLOW can make it happen.