Margaret Mead famously stated, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
For all of us in Southwest Florida, the past few years have certainly amplified the importance of citizens gathering together to shape our future in a better way, especially in regard to our water crisis and the challenges of growth in our region.
Governor Ron DeSantis was elected in 2018, in part riding a wave of strong concern and sense of crisis regarding the health of our coasts from highly polluted water. These events created significant impacts on our marine life, our coastal economies and the very health of our residents. It also sent an undesirable message to the world that Florida’s renowned waterways and beaches were in trouble. Coastal business owners, citizens and the media, fed up with lack of action, mobilized and joined forces with local and regional environmental groups such as the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Captains for Clean Water, Calusa Waterkeeper and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation to advocate for meaningful change in policy. Local citizens expressed outrage at the lack of attention to the causes of our water quality crisis. The media’s in-depth coverage helped educate the public, and events like the Save Our Water summit continued the dialogue with all stakeholders in the room.