• Michelle Kercher

Small Steps Towards Changing the World!

Eighteen months ago, a friendly acquaintance approached me about meeting with her to talk about an idea she had. She was interested in expanding her passion for water quality into a business and liked my background in education. Her idea sounded intriguing, but also came with a big learning curve for me. Plus, it meant going back to school for a certification in a subject area about which I knew very little. However, my interest was piqued and so began my journey of “Small Steps to Changing the World!”

Soon after our conversation I enrolled in the Indiana Watershed Leadership Academy (IWLA) through Purdue University and began classes a short time later. It was whole new world of Watershed talk and acronyms, but it opened my mind to the understanding of what a valuable resource clean water is to us all. It took me out of my comfort zone and stretched me to recognize behaviors in my own life, which were not friendly to our waterways and watershed.

After completion of the IWLA, I took my first steps “into the water”; as my business partner, Theresa and I began to dream of how we could help change the world one person at a time. Our first concept was to be creators of brochures which communities could share with their constituents. We thought colorful and picture filled paperwork could be a catalyst for change, but as we looked at our society, we quickly recognized that paper was a thing of the past.

Our next step was social media campaigns through Facebook and Twitter, unfortunately our timing with social media was met with a downturn especially with Facebook. We researched ways to make it plausible for our needs but were met with many obstacles in the social media world. It is certainly not a concept we have walked away from, but it will require some tweaking.

Finally, with after much crawling and several stumbles, we found some stable footing in an area we both loved…creative projects for public education. We recognized our gifts to be organizing and implementing real world ideas, something we could do ourselves or by offering support to cities wanting to make a difference. Our first project was the Storm Drain Art Project, which we implemented for the City of Goshen, Indiana and the City of Elkhart, Indiana. It was not a new project to Theresa, but we were able to take her trial run from 2016 and make improvements towards a successful public education campaign. More to come about our Storm Drain Art Project in upcoming blogs! We are also looking forward to channeling our creativity towards more projects like River Clean Ups, Board Games, and Videos Games. Our hope is to share ways each of us can engage ourselves and others in learning how we can make a difference for OUR water, because it belongs to all of us!

Each day I find new ways my mindset has shifted in the last 18 months. I know I am not alone in this journey and I know I am not the only one, who has a long way to go; but looking back I can smile at how far I have come. Like a young child learning to take those first steps, I must remember you have to crawl first. Now, I feel I am on my feet with many new steps to come!

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