On February 16, the Urban Waters Learning Network announced that the Friends of the Rio de Flag will be awarded a 2021 Learning Network Expert Award in the category of Environmental Justice & Equity. The award is for our work during 2016-2018 to support education, dialogue, and coordination with Southside residents and community partners. Through surveys, public meetings, walking tours, and partnership building with the City of Flagstaff and Southside Community Association, Friends of the Rio de Flag helped residents plan for the future of their river after having suffered management-induced floods for decades. Ultimately, this work contributed to the success of the Southside Community Specific Plan, which received an award from the International Association for Public Participation.
This work was carried out primarily by Friends of the Rio de Flag’s former Executive Director Chelsea Silva, and our former Outreach Coordinator Matt Muchna. Their work was supported by Friends of the Rio de Flag members like YOU, who generously responded to appeals to fund their work during 2017-2018. As part of the award, Friends will receive $6000 worth of professional support for capacity building, communications, and design services or programs.
This award-winning work was also the catalyst for our current collaborative watershed planning effort, which launched in 2020 when we received a Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART grant. In that effort, the Friends has led the effort to create the Watershed Alliance for the Rio de Flag (WARF). Over the last 6 months, many of us have attended some or all of the WARF’s seven virtual meetings, which will result in a watershed plan in June 2021.
You can read more about the award, and how we earned it, here: https://www.urbanwaterslearningnetwork.org/resources/centering-environmental-justice-to-strengthen-community-partnerships-oct-2020/. Please congratulate yourself for your good work!
–Friends’ Board President Kathy Flaccus