Lake Tahoe Outreach Committee: Supporting a culture of cooperation to protect the Lake Tahoe Basin
Ryan Summerlin July 29, 2013
In the spring of 2012, a group of outreach professionals from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Resource Conservation District and the Tahoe Environmental Research Center formed the Lake Tahoe Outreach Committee, with a mission of demonstrating the benefits cooperation and collaboration could have on the environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Joined by the Tahoe Fund, and later by the Truckee Watershed Council and the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative, the Outreach Committee slowly coalesced around our first major initiative — the Lake Tahoe Environmental Stewardship Messaging Project — an effort to establish Basin-wide consensus on a set of key messages to help promote a culture of environmental stewardship in the Tahoe Basin.
Our thinking was this: if you’re playing catch and someone throws dozens of balls at you at once, you probably won’t catch many. But if they throw a few at a time, chances are you’ll catch them all. We’re concerned that the large number of stewardship messages coming out of the Tahoe Basin might be creating unnecessary confusion on the part of the public as to what, if anything, people can do to help protect Lake Tahoe. Our final goal is to encourage agreement around a set of stewardship messages for the Tahoe Basin that are simple, inspiring and clear.
An EPA focus group report on how to engage citizens in water quality improvements efforts, for example, found that simply being told about a problem was insufficient to motivate people to act. The focus group participants indicated that people needed to be told specifically what actions they should take to correct the problem. At the same time, participants emphasized that they did not want to be told too many things at one time.
Now, after months of planning, the Outreach Committee recently launched the Stewardship Messaging Project with a survey to find out what the public thinks are the most important things people can do to help protect Lake Tahoe. We also conducted focus groups with school-aged children to get their input on what they think are the most important things people can do to protect Lake Tahoe. The survey takes five minutes to complete and can be found online at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/tahoetruckeestewardship.
After the survey results are tabulated, we will host a large-group facilitated meeting of diverse stakeholders including government agency representatives, environmental groups, businesses, nonprofits, and educators for the purpose of defining and agreeing upon a set of common stewardship messages. These messages will then be graphically designed and stored on the Tahoe Fund website where organizations can use them for free in their public education and marketing materials. Organizations interested in sending a representative to the large-group facilitated meeting, which will likely take place in the fall, are encouraged to contact Kristi Boosman via email at email@example.com or by phone at 775-589-5230.
We believe the Lake Tahoe Stewardship Messaging Project will be a unifying process for the Tahoe Basin and tremendously helpful for the Lake. Please take the time to complete the survey and let your ideas for protecting Lake Tahoe be heard.
— The Lake Tahoe Outreach Committee includes Tahoe Regional Planning Agency spokeswoman Kristi Boosman, Jesse Patterson and Flavia Sordelet of the League to Save Lake Tahoe; Nicole Cartwright of the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, Heather Segale of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Amy Berry of The Tahoe Fund, Lisa Wallace of the Truckee River Watershed Council and Michael Ward of the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative.