Join us on November 17 for Women for Water
on Thursday, November 9, 2017
Written by Molly Hanson, executive director, Iowa Rivers Revival
Women for Water was born after the 2017 Iowa legislative session wrapped up and a feeling of helplessness began to sink in. The conversations at the Iowa Capitol about water quality reached epic, polarizing proportions and water, a seemingly basic necessity, was politicized to the point of absolute contention.
Three women who worked in policy and advocacy found themselves commiserating and ultimately, refused to accept and continue adhering to the status quo. Jennifer Terry, from the Iowa Environmental Council, Kerri Johannsen from the Iowa Environmental Council and I (with Iowa Rivers Revival) decided there had to be a better way to discuss, brainstorm and devise solutions to Iowa’s growing water quality problems. We wanted to focus on the things we had in common and ignore the 10% on which we would never agree.
We concluded that men almost always dominated water quality discussions. Iowa water quality is essential to the health, safety, and future of Iowa, and required women’s voices. We also believed that women could come together and focus on shared values to start meaningful conversations about water in our state and elevate voices that have been missing from the scene.
We were so certain of this approach that we wrote a grant and received $20,000 in funding to work on the issue from LUSH Cosmetics. We formed a steering committee of passionate and intelligent women from around the state. With their support and support from LUSH cosmetics, we handed out a “meeting in a box” to ladies wanting to host a Women for Water gathering, encouraging water conversations in homes and businesses across the state.
The essence of Women for Water gatherings elevates women’s stories and experiences to shed light on everyday issues concerning water in Iowa. Uniting around common experiences provided a base and a platform to talk about how to solve water problems rather than continuing to point fingers.
Each gathering began with a question; what is your first memory of a connection with water? Those connections were stories and experiences of Iowa women. Then we asked another question. And another. What is your connection to water now? What has changed? What are your concerns? How can we do better? How optimistic are you that we can do better?
On November 17th, we will celebrate the Women for Water gatherings and the stories we’ve heard. We invite all women for water to join us in Des Moines from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm at the Holiday Inn, Des Moines Airport to discuss the trends we have found amongst other women over the last several months.
We encourage women of all ages, from all backgrounds and from both sides of the aisle to join us for this inaugural gathering for Iowa women to connect with one another and learn more and build advocacy skills to amplify our voices in Iowa’s water quality discussions. The status quo isn’t working. Let’s try something new.