Our biggest event of the year – Rally for the River – was held September 7th and 8th 2017 in Red Deer. The rally marked the culmination of months of planning, and also the broadening of our work through Project Blue Thumb to include more voices and spark new ideas. Read on for a quick recap of the event.

Rally for the River was co-hosted by the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance and Alberta Ecotrust, and held at the Red Deer Golf & Country Club. We were joined by the amazing visual facilitator, Julie Murray, who captured the conversation through illustration.

Day 1

The first day of the Rally brought together invited stakeholders and Project Blue Thumb alumni to network, discuss key water issues, and and explore potential breakthroughs.

We started out with some activities to get to know one another, and then shared our hopes and fears in the context of watershed management.

Most of the day was spent exploring six new Action Pathways – six areas meant to guide shared efforts in the watershed. Participants helped to chart a new course forward for each of these pathways.

project blue thumb river rally red deer graphic recording illustration watershed action pathways progress julie murray

Participants were able to explore Action Pathways at different multisensory stations featuring crafts, conversation cafés, and learning prompts. Then mapped what’s already going on in relation to each pathway. It always feels good to get hands on!

The guiding theme for the day was “exploration”. In the afternoon, we started to explore the future course of each action pathway, and “blazed the trail” into uncharted territory. In small groups, participants discussed what progress might look like – including ideas for actions and markers of success. Ideas for action are definitely not in short supply!

All in all, Day 1 helped us explore “what is possible” for the future of this watershed. It was also thrilling to see the number of people who signed up to either lead or support various action pathways!

Day 2

The second day of the Rally saw us open our doors to the public and broaden overall participation. It also doubled as the RDRWA’s 2017 Fall Forum.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Brad Stelfox, gave a riveting talk about past, present, and future land uses in the Red Deer River watershed, and stressed the need for action. Dr. Stelfox is the architect of the ALCES (A Landscape Cumulative Effects Simulator) platform, which allows diverse stakeholder groups to have science-based conversations about the benefits and challenges of various land uses.

Then it was time to put our work from Day 1 to the test, and have our new guests and participants explore the Action Pathways in any way that served their style of discovery. We had a creative building challenge, a watershed café, and chances for deeper dialogue.

We brought people together for the Rally to explore the urgency of the difficult issues we face in the Red Deer River Watershed and kickstart action. Before the end of Day 2, we asked participants to share their level of interest in being involved in Phase 2, and were happy to see a strong interest in leading or supporting future work.

If you missed us at the Rally, but one of these sounds like you, please don’t hesitate to contact Amy at a.spark@albertaecotrust.com.

A big thank you to our supporters and event sponsors: ConocoPhillips Canada, the RBC Foundation, Plains Midstream, the Government of Alberta, and Repsol.

Thank you for joining us at Rally for the River! Stay tuned for a “What We Heard” report and more information about next steps for Project Blue Thumb and the Action Pathways.

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