Only last week, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper launched the Watermark Project, a digital archive of water stories collected from people around the world sharing their most powerful water memory.
At first glance, the Watermark Project may seem wholly separate from Swim Guide: watermarks are stories of our watersheds, while the Swim Guide shares hard data.
But as someone deeply committed to protecting the water bodies around me, I know that these two projects are not only linked, they’re inseparable.
Watermarks are a record of our connection to a watershed. For each of us, Watermarks are the reason we care about water and what drives us to protect it.
Watermarks are our memories. Swim Guide is our tool.
We started Swim Guide because we believe that every person should be able to swim at any beach on any day of the summer and never have to worry about health risks. When water isn’t safe to touch, people withdraw from it. And when the connection between us and our water fades, so does our instinct to protect it.
When you share your Watermark, you’re strengthening your own connection to water, and sharing valuable stories for everyone that may visit that watershed in the future.
Maybe your Watermark is overwhelmingly positive: dipping your feet in the ocean for the first time and feeling the waves lap over your toes, or jumping off a dock into your favourite lake as a child.
But maybe it’s not a happy memory.
Maybe your first memory of water is driving down to the beach, only to be turned away because the water wasn’t safe. Maybe it was growing up in a community where the water couldn’t be drunk, let alone touched.
Whatever your story, whatever the memory, these stories not only strengthen Swim Guide, they are critical to its very success.
If we aren’t connected to water, we pull away from it. When we pull away from water, we are immune to its destruction. We stop spending time at the beach or on the ocean. The water is no longer our friend, but a distant acquaintance.
As users and promoters of the Swim Guide, it’s our duty to share our water stories. It’s our pledge to protect these water bodies. One of the best ways to do this is through narrative. By sharing your story, you deepen your connection to water – and encourage others to do the same.
Submit your story here.