Report #3: Bridging the gap between interest and action: What does engagement in water activism look like in Canadian communities?

Our third and final Water Wins community report on water interests in Wellington County and Fraser Valley has been released. This report looks to answer the question: What does engagement in water activism look like at the community level? It explores the ways in which individuals demonstrate their interest for water issues through their actions (i.e. what engagement in water activism actually looks like), and what key informants in local water activist organizations have to say about what they think motivates and deters people from becoming engaged in water activism. Read the report.

Report #2: Is It Even on the Radar? What People in Canadian Communities Know About the Work of Local Water Activist Organizations.

The new Water Wins Winter 2016 Community Report is now available! This second community report looks to answer the question: how much knowledge do people have about water activist organizations and campaigns in their community? Read the report. 

Report #1: Cultivating Interest in Canada’s Bottomless Resource: What do people in Canadian communities care about when it comes to water?

The first community report in a series of three is now available. The report highlights which water issues communities in Wellington County care about the most, and how they compare with other Canadian communities. Click here to read the report.

Do Wins for Water Equal Wins for the Movement? Exploring the impact of campaign ‘wins’ on social movement organization in two Canadian communities

When a local environmental campaign is successful, do more people sign up?

In 2013, community activist groups including the Wellington Water Watchers challenged an appeal by Nestlé Waters Canada, to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, to have certain conditions removed from a water-taking permit issued for water-bottling operations in the county. Unwilling to fight against the community pressure, Nestlé eventually withdrew its appeal. (For more on this, see related news reports by CBC News and EcoJustice.)

In Hope, B.C., where Nestlé Waters Canada also has water bottling operations, social movement organizations organized themselves to take aim at Nestlé’s operations there, drawing attention to the lack of regulation governing water use in that province. This advocacy work eventually contributed to the enactment of the province’s new Water Sustainability Act in late 2013.

In both cases, these policy wins were celebrated in the community and across Canada as a significant victory for water activists. However, important questions remain concerning the continuing impact of these ‘wins’ on public attitudes about and grassroots involvement in the social movement organizations involved. Specifically, does an organization’s success encourage more people to become involved, or make them feel that their participation is no longer needed?

This project, based at Renison College at the University of Waterloo, aims to explore these perceptions and how they may have changed over time. This will be done through interviews with key informants, a survey of residents in the two communities, and a retrospective analysis of local and national news media.

The online survey is now closed.

Water Wins Spring 2016 Community Report is now available! View it as a downloadable PDF and also online.

 

Renison College Logo - Water Wins Project University of Waterloo Logo - Water Wins Project

 

This project is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant.

SSHRC Logo, High Resolution (1)

WATER WINS SPRING 2016 COMMUNITY REPORT RELEASED

The third Water Wins community report is out!

We are very excited to announce that our third and final report on water interests in Wellington County and Fraser Valley has been released. This report looks to answer the question: What does engagement in water activism look like at the community level? It explores the ways in which individuals demonstrate their interest for water issues through their actions (i.e. what engagement in water activism actually looks like), and what key informants in local water activist organizations have to say about what they think motivates and deters people from becoming engaged in water activism.

Please share this with your community and let us know what you think! And look out for our academic publications for further research and discussion. Check out the report here.

SPRING 2016: ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY IN OUR RESEARCH

Earlier in June, members of the Water Wins team travelled to Calgary, Alberta for the annual conference of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada. This event is part of the Congress for the Social Sciences and Humanities Conference, Canada’s largest gathering of scholars across disciplines.

On June 21, the Water Wins team along with Wellington Water Watchers will be hosting “WAVE: Water Advocacy Voices Emerging”, a free community event geared toward engaging community members in local water activism around water-bottling by Nestle Waters Canada. Participants from various areas throughout Wellington County are coming together in Guelph for this event. For more information on WAVE, contact Jocelyn Kelly at jocelyn.m.kelly@gmail.com.

WATER WINS WINTER 2016 COMMUNITY REPORT RELEASED

The second WaterWins community report is out!

We are very excited to announce that our second report on water interests in Wellington County and Fraser Valley has been released. This report looks to answer the question: how much knowledge do people have about water activist organizations and campaigns in their community? It discusses community members’ level of engagement in regards to water activism and their reaction to major campaign successes in their community. The first report was released in the fall, and discussed what issues people seem to be most concerned about when it comes to water. The third report will take a more detailed look at engagement in water activism at the community level.

Please share this with your community and let us know what you think! And look out for our academic publications for further research and discussion. Check out the report here.

WATER WINS FALL 2015 COMMUNITY REPORT RELEASED

In late November 2015, we released our first community report of the study findings. This report looks to answer the question: what are people in Wellington County, Ontario and in the Fraser Valley, BC, concerned about when it comes to water? It is the first in a series of three community reports to be released between now and Spring of 2016. Click here to read the report.

Please share this with your community and let us know what you think! Also look out for our upcoming academic publications for further research and discussion.

FALL 2015: WHERE WE ARE AT

This spring, we completed our first round of data collection. This included interviews with 29 “key informants” from the Wellington Water Watchers (in Wellington County, Ontario) and the WaterWealth Project (in the Fraser Valley, BC), and also with other local experts in water and environmental issues. We also completed our community surveys, collected online, in person at community events, and in person through door-to-door canvassing. In total, we were able to collect responses from over 600 members of the Wellington County and Fraser Valley communities.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who sat down for an interview or completed our survey (or both!). You’ve made important contributions to our understanding about public awareness and involvement in local water activism in your community.

This summer, we shared some of the early findings from our key informant interviews, including presenting our research at the Environmental Studies Association of Canada conference in Ottawa and at the Society for the Study of Social Problems conference in Chicago. It was a great opportunity to meet with other researchers and community activists, and to contribute what we’ve learned so far to the broader discussions happening around activism in environmental issues.

This fall, our research team is ready to delve into an in-depth analysis of our survey data, as we prepare to write up a series of short reports for those who have participated in and/or are interested in our research. We hope to have our first report ready, and made available on this site, sometime this fall. We’ve also begun working on our first academic publications of this research project, which we look forward to sharing with you in the near future.

WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS TO THE WATER WINS TEAM

The Water Wins team is excited to welcome aboard two new members to our research team. This fall, Chloe France and Kelsey Metz will join us as research assistants. We’re happy to have them on our team!

Best of luck to our community survey coordinator Jackie Peat, as she moves on to a research position at York University while she completes her Masters in Environmental Studies there, and to our research assistant Amanda Buchnea, who is pursuing a Masters in Public Policy this fall at the University of Toronto.

ANNOUNCING THE WINNERS OF OUR SURVEY DRAW PRIZE!

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our survey online. Your input will provide important insights to our research, and will also be useful to the WaterWealth Project (and also our Ontario partners, the Wellington Water Watchers) in understanding how they can better connect with an even broader audience on local water issues.

Congratulations to our draw prize winners: Jill Hogg of Guelph, Ontario and Ted Goshulak of Langley, BC. They have each been awarded a $50 gift card to Mountain Equipment Co-op.

SPRING/SUMMER 2015: THE WATER WINS TEAM IN YOUR COMMUNITY

We have been doing some short door-to-door surveys in select communities in the Fraser Valley (BC) and Wellington County (Ontario). In the Fraser Valley, this has been coordinated by the WaterWealth Project; meanwhile, in Wellington County, this has been led by volunteers from the Wellington Water Watchers.

The purpose of these surveys is to capture a wider audience than we might have been able to draw from the online version of the survey alone, toward a broader picture of community awareness and involvement of water activism in these communities. We are also looking to address the potential bias of who the online survey might attract (i.e. those who are already familiar and in tune with local water issues in the first place).

Look out for members of our team, and let your neighbours know about us. We are NOT fundraising! We look forward to meeting you and getting to hear your views.

CANADA WATER WEEK, MARCH 16-21 2015: WATER WINS OUT AND ABOUT IN WELLINGTON COUNTY

The Water Wins team, with help from volunteers from the Wellington Water Watchers, was part of some local community action for Canada Water Week. You may have seen us around the city at Guelph public library locations, and at the H2O GO Festival at Old Quebec Street Mall, handing out surveys, answering questions about our project, and taking part in community conversations about water and the environment here in Wellington County.

We were also out spreading the word in conjunction with “Aqua Lauta”, an interactive art installation demonstrating the energy and infrastructure required to provide clean drinking water.

Thanks to those who stopped by to say hello!

SPRING 2015: OUR PROGRESS SO FAR

The Water Wins team has been busy this winter! In February, we launched the online version of our community survey, and have had a great response rate in both of our study communities. We have also been distributing and collecting paper versions of the survey at a variety of community events.

We have completed interviews with 29 “key informants” from the Wellington Water Watchers (in Ontario) and the WaterWealth Project (in BC), and also with other local experts in water and environmental issues. Thank you to our knowledgeable interview participants, whose insights have not only yielded some very interesting findings, but have also been hugely informative to this project as we move forward.

Our media analysis has been ongoing, and so far there have been some interesting trends related to the media coverage of water “wins” in both communities over the study period. The results of this analysis are also forthcoming.

Robert Case
Principal Investigator

Robert Case is an assistant professor in Social Development Studies, at Renison University College (at the University of Waterloo), and a member of the board of directors of the Wellington Water Watchers, a citizens-based advocacy group based in Wellington County, Ontario.

In Guelph, where Rob lives, water has emerged as a significant focal point for policy development, technological innovation, and social action over past decade or so. In the early 2000s, as a volunteer with the Guelph International Resource Centre, Rob found himself immersed in a broad and interconnected web of diverse professionals, institutions and citizens’ groups that were active on water issues in Guelph and beyond.

Returning to academia in 2007 to pursue a PhD in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University, Rob immersed himself further still in Guelph’s social networks of water activism, through a dissertation project that explored the dynamics underlying water activism in that context. The “Water Wins” research project builds on this research trajectory.

In his teaching capacity, Rob teaches courses on social policy and on community organization, largely to students pursuing a social work specialization. He has a PhD in social work from Wilfrid Laurier University, also in Waterloo, an MSW from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and a BSW from McGill University in Montreal.

Laura Zeglen
Project Coordinator

Laura is a recent Master of Arts graduate from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Laura brings a diverse range of experience and expertise to coordinating this environmentally-focused project, from past research coordination work at the University of Toronto, to volunteering with the Brampton YMCA’s “Green Team”, to engaging with nature whilst backpacking and hiking in a variety of rugged landscapes around the world.

Currently, she is also coordinating a project at Ryerson University (http://greengap.org/), investigating Toronto’s green economy and exploring how various stakeholders engage in this economy. Her emerging research interests include new approaches to environmental education, community engagement in environmental initiatives, and learning what drives environmental policy change.

Siobhan Bonisteel Topping
Media Analyst

Siobhan Bonisteel Topping is an MES candidate in Environment & Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo. She holds an honours BA from the University of Toronto in Women and Gender Studies. Siobhan has experience with non-profit Board management, web design, social media and small business entrepreneurism. Past work includes being Editor of the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable Blog, and Social Media and Web Development for a joint program between George Brown College and Negahneewin College.

Siobhan has a passion for all things environmental and her research focuses mainly on sustainable food and sustainable parenting within modern-consumer culture. She also has years of experience in grassroots community building projects and recently co-founded the Preston Community Garden.

Rebecca Pacheco
Research Assistant (Communications)

Rebecca is studying Social Development Studies at the University of Waterloo. She is specializing in social work and social policy and has chosen to minor in political science. She is working with Wellington Water Watchers as a research apprentice working with Robert Case as her supervising professor. She is passionate about social activism and really wants to make positive social change in her community. She loves learning about nature and the environment and loves spending time outdoors.

Wellington Water Watchers is a Project Partner for Water Wins StudyThe Wellington Water Watchers are fully affiliated with this project, both in assisting with its administration, and in being one of the key social movement organizations being studied in this project.
the water wealth project - water winsThe other key partner in this project is the WaterWealth Project, based in the Fraser Valley, B.C., who are assisting with the administration of the project in B.C.The WaterWealth Project is an important player in water protection in the province of BC. In February 2015, BC announced the first regulations of its newly-formed Water Sustainability Act, the creation of which was supported in large part by the work of the WaterWealth Project. Now, WaterWealth is contributing to the movement to hold the province to its stated aims, particularly around facilitating community involvement, regulation and enforcement, maintaining provisions for cost recovery for science, monitoring, and planning, and around fair pricing and licensing fees for existing groundwater users such as Nestle.For more on developments to the Water Sustainability Act, or for information about the WaterWealth Project, visit http://www.waterwealthproject.com/.

The Water Wins project team has collected data through interviews with key informants, a survey of residents in the two communities, and a retrospective analysis of local and national news media, which we will delve into in a series of short reports.

This is a series of three community reports that will aim to answer key questions, toward eventually answering the project’s overarching question: does an organization’s success encourage more people to become involved, or make them feel that their participation is no longer needed?

Report One (Fall 2015): What are people concerned about when it comes to water?

Report Two (Winter 2016): What do people know about the work of local activist groups?

Report Three (Spring 2016): What does engagement in water activism look like at the community level?

Thank you for your interest in our research. We hope you find this series of reports to be interesting, informative and useful.

For more information on this project, contact:

Principal Investigator:
Robert Case, Assistant Professor
Social Development Studies, Renison University College (@UWaterloo)
racase@uwaterloo.ca

Andrews, K and Caren, N. (2010). Making the news: movement organizations, media attention, and the public agenda. American Sociological Review, 75(6), 841-866.

Barlow, M. (2013). Blue future: protecting water for people and the planet forever. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press.

Case, R. (pending). Social Work and the Moral Economy of Water: Community-Based Water Activism and its Implications for Eco-social Work. Critical Social Work.

Case, R and Caragata, L. (2009). The emergence of a new social movement: Social networks and collective Action on water issues in Guelph, Ontario. Journal of  Community Development Society, 40(3), 247-261.

Hensby, A, Sibthorpe, J and Driver, S. (2011). Resisting the ‘protest business’: Bureaucracy, postbureaucracy and active membership in social movement organizations. Organization 19(6): 809–823.

Jaffee, D. and Newman, S. (2013). A Bottle Half Empty: Bottled Water, Commodification, and Contestation, Organization and Environment, 26(3), 318-335.

Jaffee, D. and Newman, S. (2013). A More Perfect Commodity: Bottled Water, Global Accumulation, and Local Contestation. Rural Sociology, 78(1), 1-28.

Morris, T. and Brandes, OM. (2013). The State of the Water Movement in British Columbia: A Waterscape Scan & Needs Assessment of B.C. Watershed-Based Groups. Report prepared for the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia and the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance. Available at: http://poliswaterproject.org/publication/561