It's best to open a fundraising appeal with a telling anecdote that touches readers' hearts, minds and wallets. I'd like readers to schedule a donation to a unique, strategic, and most of all, grassroots environmental group for Give To The Max Day--or give on November 17.
But it's hard to pin down one story to let you know how valuable CURE (Clean Up The River Environment) is for those of us who live in the Upper Valley of the Minnesota and the rest of the state.
Does "the" story start with sitting in a Lutheran church in Granite Falls with hundreds of other local people while polar explorer Will Steger leads a discussion of climate change?
Or is it gathering in the CURE office while lawmakers field questions about pollinator policy from rural people ranging from farmers to sportsmen who've seen bee and butterfly populations drop?
Or breaking bread a big potluck at the Watson Town Hall where everybody from young, beginning farmers to a state legislator stress the need to save a practical sustainable food production education program at a community and technical college in the watershed? There was local music there and art, along with the local food and young families eager to farm.
Is it a discussion in a Renville County community center about what a water charter might look like, in which people who started the meeting as strangers bond over their shared concerns, regardless of their age or political persuasion?
Paddling down the LeSueur River to its confluence with the Blue Earth, after listening to farmers, residents and a county commissioner talk about their river? Or walking on a sandbar near Sacred Heart while a young Native American girl educates me about river mussels and river health?
There are more episodes that come to mind, but the common river that runs through my memory is conversation and a common belief that ordinary people can make a difference. We hear a lot these days about paying attention to rural folks. I feel blessed to have been in the room so many times when CURE has created a space for conversation and action meant to clean up the river environment.
Bluestem Prairie encourages our readers to give to Montevideo-based Clean Up The River Environment (CURE), a rural, grassroots nonprofit founded in 1992, with the goal to rescue and restore the Upper Valley of the Minnesota River. On its Give To The Max Day webpage, CURE describes itself:
CURE is a rural, grassroots nonprofit founded in 1992. Our mission is to protect and restore resilient rural landscapes by harnessing the power of citizens who care about them. We do this because we believe that robust human communities can only be sustained by healthy ecosystems, and robust natural environments can only be regained through vigorous stewardship.
Our work takes many forms, but always involves three core practices:
- Awakening people’s bonds with the natural world around them
- Inclusively, strategically and dialectically exploring issues and actions
- Systematically building communities of change at critical intersections of ecological and social well-being
For more information visit: www.cureriver.org
That sounds a bit abstract, but CURE's work is anything but that out here on the prairie and the watersheds that connect us to the rest of the world. Please give to this tremendous organization and its vital work with rural people and communities.
Photo: One of CURE's youth education outings.