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Inspiring Innovative Solutions One Drop at a Time
Leahy Environmental Summit Logo

Blue Water in Green Mountains
May 28 - 30, 2013

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain opened 10 years ago with five compassionate community leaders sharing the important emotional ties we all have to water. On May 29 and 30, 2013, the first Leahy Center Environmental Summit began, bringing together leaders from throughout the Champlain Basin and the world. For two days they explored, expressed and experienced their shared ties to water through sharing their own "water stories" with colleagues, listening to the words of Bobby Kennedy, Jr. (see YouTube video here), or enjoying the impromptu singing of the Vermont state song with Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz.

It was a busy, effective and powerful two days.

The Leahy Center Environmental Summit launched with a task: To spark interest in water and inspire innovative action to cultivate individual and community-wide change in our region and beyond. Participants were challenged to: create products that inspire positive individual behavior changes towards water, design innovative science center experiences, partner with educators, create tool boxes for success, utilize technology in new and exciting ways, and source ideas from an increasingly wide range of partners. As the convener of this conversation, ECHO sees these emerging opportunities and makes the following commitments

Ideas abound, but what happens next? Whether it was the statewide water festival, waterfront tours, bio-boat certifications, Governor’s water institute, using big data, participatory games, an agriculture certainty program, or integrating watersheds into core curriculum; ECHO will continue to thoughtfully and methodically sift through the many opportunities and take a lead on those items where our strengths are greatest, look to others to lead where it makes sense, or re-build the concept to best fit the partnership and funding landscape.

ECHO makes the commitment to support the convening of future important conversations. As our beloved state works through the process to define new policy - be they about shorelines, phosphorus, or land use - we stand ready. Many of the amazing Summit ideas produced will require further analysis and conversation. ECHO will be here to host dialogue, and when appropriate, drive concept development.

Ideas, programs, and projects from the Summit will inform ECHO’s five-year strategic plan. Summit outcomes, married to ECHO’s emerging momentum will stir the pot as ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain’s board of directors sets strategic direction for the next five years. In anticipation, the summer will be filled with research about emerging priorities - audience, resource requirements, emotional impact, related programs, mission, and partnerships.

The Summit story told through art: Below is the story of the two-day Leahy Center Environmental Summit as recorded by the extraordinary artist Diana Arsenian. Please take some time and review the panels and consider how do you fit into this story. How will you or do you engage in making a difference, changing an action, impacting our world?


The Leahy Summit followed the Appreciative Inquiry Model of conversation

Learn more about the Appreciative Inquiry Model with the following links:

Official Appreciative Inquiry Commons website

Journal publication describing Appreciative Inquiry

Video: Dr. David Cooperrider talks about Appreciative Inquiry and the power of strength-based leadership



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