How do we get other people to care about what we care about? It seems like if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s being bad at compromise. But is there an easy way to find ourselves on the same page with others much more often? Our guides in this article are giving us a different route to follow; one that we can consider in any part of our lives. It all may just be a case of show, not tell.
Paul Hendricks and Colin McCarthy are about to take us on a beautiful journey all throughout the Great Lakes in this special edition of Saturdays Around the World. With over 20% of the world’s surface freshwater (that’s enough to submerge the entire continental US in 10 feet of water! 1). 2 these 5 lakes provide drinking water to 35 million people in the US and Canada 3, and are home to 3,500 species of plants and animals! 4
These travelers aren’t just doing it for the gorgeous sights, though. They’re on a mission: their home is under an unseen threat. So, they’re grabbing their surfboards, bikes, and their friend with a vegetable oil-powered van and heading on an epic road trip.
As they bring us along for the ride, we’ll experience more than just a fantastic story. Each of us will get a glimpse at how to bridge the gaps between us about whatever it is we deeply care about!
The Beauty of the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes and surrounding watershed are home to some of the most beautiful waterways, shorelines, and hidden gems in the United States–and if you asked a Michigander (that’s a native of the state of Michigan) it’s the most beautiful place in the world.
Needless to say, there’s a lot at stake if we lose the safety and purity of these waters. So, when Paul and Colin heard about a little known threat to their beloved homeland, they decided to go on a journey to help save it through storytelling. Yes, you read that right. Not a mission to change hearts and minds, a mission to use compassion and storytelling to help people come together to protect a place they all love so much.
Why are they so concerned about the safety of their homeland?
It starts with an old oil pipeline called Enbridge Line 5. The pipe carries 23 million gallons of oil a day 645-miles through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, crossing between the two at the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline was originally built to last 50 years, and that was in 1953. 5 As it’s aged, lovers of Michigan’s shores have become increasingly scared that this old pipe, past its prime, could pose a major threat to people’s wellbeing and livelihoods by exposing the lake to a massive oil spill that would be difficult to contain and recover from.
So, what is there to do about this ancient pipe?
How do you get people to know it’s even there and take action? After hearing about the work of two great organizations–FLOW, and Oil and Water Don’t Mix–Michigan born adventures Paul and Colin headed to the shores of the Great Lakes to take a 500-mile journey across their home state on bikes, boats, and a veggie-oil powered bus along the route of Enbridge Line 5. Their goal along the way was to tell the story of their journey to their fellow Michiganders, and learn more about why the region means so much to others, too!
It’s a great story of what’s possible when we put storytelling before yelling. And how we can connect deeply over the feelings and places that mean the most! So, let’s ride-along with Paul Hendricks and Collin McCarthy as they take on this epic journey filled with positivity and a love for home!
If you want to see more from Colin McCarthy, head over to his website, you can also check out what he’s up to by following him over on Instagram. You can learn more about the trip, and Patagonia’s involvement in really “walking the talk” when it comes to the environment by checking out this piece about the trip.
If you’d like to learn more about FLOW–For the Love Of Water–the organization that catalyzed this project go check out their website where you can learn more and donate. You can also keep up with the organization Oil and Water Don’t Mix, the organization leading the charge to keep oil out of the Great Lakes over on their site. They also post regular news updates on how the movement to remove Line 5 is going!
As of the publication of this article, Enbridge Line 5 is still installed and running but a state task force formed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer created a report and recommendations that suggest a shift away from the use of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. 7
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What’s possible when we start where we agree?
So often, great ideas get lost when we don’t start on where we can agree. So, what if we created movements that mobilized and motivated people around their common loves, not who their enemy is, or what beliefs they have?
What do you care deeply about? Who shares those loves with you? You may not agree on everything with your neighbor, but you probably agree that you live in a beautiful place, and want to protect that beauty together! Perhaps you aren’t seeing eye to eye with a loved one? Try digging deeper and starting from where you agree, then see how the conversation unfolds! Through sharing stories and connecting deeply with each other, we’re able to make greater ripples of progress and bring more people together to work towards a positive goal.
Nobody was ever convinced to root for the opposing sports team because somebody shouted at them from across the bar. Why do we expect the same in the world outside of sports?
We won’t all agree on the best way forward a lot of the time, but if we figured out why we agree first, we may make the world a better place for everybody! Start by telling the stories of why you both are so passionate about your idea. Can you agree that you both love clean water? Can you agree that you both care about the health and safety of loved ones? Do you have an old family story that explains your passion?
Starting from a place of empathy isn’t always the easiest. But it can lead to creating lasting change that leaves everybody coming away feeling uplifted! If you want help getting started, I recommend checking out our article about empathy!
So, get out there, trade stories with somebody you may think you have nothing in common with. You may find that you are more on the same page with them than you thought!
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
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- “Great Lakes Fast Facts | Michigan Sea Grant.” Michiganseagrant.Org, 2020, www.michiganseagrant.org/topics/great-lakes-fast-facts/. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020. ↩
- “The Problem.” Oil & Water Don’t Mix, 2010, www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/problem. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020. ↩
- “Protecting the Great Lakes | National Wildlife Federation.” National Wildlife Federation, 2020, www.nwf.org/Our-Work/Waters/Great-Waters-Restoration/Great-Lakes. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020. ↩
- “Great Lakes Fast Facts | Michigan Sea Grant.” Michiganseagrant.Org, 2020, www.michiganseagrant.org/topics/great-lakes-fast-facts/. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020 ↩
- “About Line 5.” Enbridge.Com, 2016, www.enbridge.com/projects-and-infrastructure/public-awareness/line-5-michigan/about-line-5. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020. ↩
- McCarthy, Colin. “Great Lakes, Bad Lines.” Vimeo, 31 Mar. 2020, vimeo.com/180350618. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020. ↩
- “New State Task Force Report: Michigan Should Shift Away from Risky Enbridge Line 5 for U.P. Propane.” Oil & Water Don’t Mix, 2020, www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/new_state_task_force_report_says_michigan_should_shift_away_from_risky_enbridge_line_5_for_up_propane. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020. ↩