We begin the New Year here at the Sonoran Institute with a simple message: Thank You! Thank you for your support, your dedication and your continued commitment to our North American West. Your support throughout 2016 culminated in the incredible success of our Year-End Giving Campaign. Because of you, we’re starting off 2017 strong.
And we need to be strong, because our challenges are great and the future of our precious West is uncertain.
One thing is certain, 2017 will be a year of change. And that is where we come in. The Sonoran Institute has been helping communities plan for change and uncertainty for two decades. We have fine-tuned our trainings to focus on achieving resilient communities and watersheds.
In the communities where we work, we choose not to be distracted by politics, but to find shared values and build from there by engaging the broadest possible range of stakeholders, collaborating with trusted partners and providing tools and resources to help connect people and communities to the natural resources that nourish and sustain them thereby ensuring their opportunities for a vibrant economic future and quality of life.
Thanks to you, 2016 was a year of accomplishment. We launched a new website to share our success stories, our critical mission, and our passion for the West to an even broader audience.
- We expanded our work in the Colorado River Delta by launching our first project in urban Mexicali – Mexicali Fluye – where together with the Colonia Fronteriza neighborhood we turned an illegal garbage dump into a beautiful and thriving community park. I am so excited to see the immediate success and positive impact this is having!
- Our work in the Santa Cruz River resulted in improved metrics for river health, including increased fish populations like the Gila topminnow, an endangered native fish that returned to the Santa Cruz only a year ago. Great blue heron and black necked stilts can now be seen wading in the shallows of this “living river”. Neither of these extraordinary changes would have been possible without the improved quality of effluent water discharged from the recently upgraded regional wastewater reclamation facilities. We supported these upgrades and I’m delighted to see the results.
- We have expanded our impact across the West by providing essential training to communities and working at the grassroots level to identify appropriate local actions to the impending effect of climate change. Communities like Wickenburg, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Jimez Springs, New Mexico; and Hurricane, Utah are experiencing the success of our community training programs. We’ve engaged in a collaborative effort with the Latino community in South Phoenix to broaden the local discussion of climate change and the disproportionate effects it will have on economically struggling communities.
Our resolution for 2017 is to redouble our commitment to the people, communities, and precious natural resources of the North American West; to provide the best tools and resources available to help them face the challenges, anxieties and struggles that often accompany change.
We will work together with our partners, our supporters, donors and volunteers; with the people who benefit from the work we do, to ensure a way of life where humankind succeeds in conjunction with the environment, not at its expense.
My grandmother used to say, “when the going gets tough, work harder.”
Thank you again, now let’s get to work!
Blog Post By: Stephanie Sklar, Sonoran Institute
Stephanie Sklar is the Chief Executive Officer of the Sonoran Institute.