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  • Writer's pictureDan Robinson

A Light on the Water: Honoring the Women Who Care for the Great Lakes

Updated: Feb 13

For Women's History Month, I want to recognize the women who have generously shared their wisdom and their work on behalf of water and the Great Lakes with this Project. They have been, and continue to be, beacons of hope. Below are quotes from each of their interviews and a link to the post for that interview.

Lighthouse at Kewaunee, WI (photo by Dan Robinson)




“Part of the DIS-ease that I would say that we are suffering from right now is that we have started to look at water, oil, minerals, trees, forests, as natural resources, stuff that is there to be in service to the human. And in reality, these are our relatives, or at least that's a healthier way of looking at it… I love the definition of sacred as worthy of our deepest respect… that's a very practical definition of that.



“We saw that with the (Toledo/Lake Erie) water crisis, everybody said, ‘Oh, what am I going to do?’... You start getting into this idea of Rights of Nature, and ‘What am I going to do?’ becomes “What are we going to do?’ You know, what is this community going to do?... You have to do meaningful work in a dying world, and you're not given the tools to actually do that. And so Rights of Nature was a tool, you know. It was a way of saying I have the power to make changes that don't just affect me but are going to affect people I don't even know. And people who aren't here yet.”



“How little we see. How little we know and that's both bad and, it's not good, but at least it's a possibility that maybe we don't really know that there's some hidden connections, some possible resilience, something left over and now I think that all the time.”



“I always joke with my mom that when Adam and Eve were placed on Earth, their first job, their only primary job, was to what? Take care of the land and the animals in the Garden of Eden where God had placed them… So, I really look at our role as still carrying that forward… While we're busy doing all the things that we're supposed to be doing in life, we also need to make sure that we're still good stewards of the resources that God, or whoever your higher power is that you choose to worship, has given us to be able to interact with and live amongst on this great Planet Earth.”



“We are constantly reminded of our existential threats, and it can be really overwhelming. And I think one of the things we try to do in our conversations with people is remind people, you can't save the whole planet, but you can save your corner of it... If you don't, it's irresponsible. So you do have to step up and you have to do something in your little corner of the world. And if everybody did it, then we're gonna be okay. And so just reminding people of their own circle of influence.”



“The Great Lakes have been one of my driving mission areas for probably 30 years of my life. We all make choices about where am I going to put my time and energy and there was just something about the Great Lakes that said to me, ‘I got to work on this, I have to do this. They're big, they're precious, they're vulnerable. They're important. I have skills. Let me help. Let me be in this space.’ And I always want to do what I can to protect and cherish and safeguard this remarkable gift on planet Earth… So, from a professional standpoint, because I care deeply about them as a sense of place, and a sense of personal connection, it was an easy choice to do this work, and frankly, working with other people who are passionate about the Great Lakes is very rewarding, and often a lot of fun.”


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David Groenfeldt
David Groenfeldt
Mar 30, 2022

Let's also remember the sacred Indigenous tradition of Water Walkers, and especially Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, who walked around the Great Lakes over a period of more than a decade, as an act of blessing, gratitude, and protection. See, https://www.waterdocs.ca/news/2019/3/8/the-women-who-walk-for-the-water-grandmother-josephines-legacy

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Dan Robinson
Dan Robinson
Mar 31, 2022
Replying to

Thanks, David, for the comment. I agree that the Water Walkers, and especially Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, should definitely be honored!

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