What is a “Catalyst for Change”?

Here’s a guest post from our partner and Director of Flood Forum USA, Harriet Festing:

You’ve probably heard the phrase before; it’s become a cliché. But we want to introduce you to some real-life catalysts for change: our Flood Forum USA group leaders! Here’s what they’ve done:

Susan Liley and Paula Arbuthnot from the Citizens Committee for Flood Relief in De Soto Missouri saved their town. We met them last year when we were just starting out, and their community was struggling to recover from four years of devastating floods. Susan and Paula organized residents, reached out to legislators and contacted the US Army Corps of Engineers. But as Susan explains, “it wasn’t until Flood Forum USA and their partners at TEX, [Thriving Earth Exchange] and The Elevated Studio entered the scene that stuff really started happening…I have BIG hopes for our small town. I can see it having a future now when all I was seeing for it was a dark, wet ending.”

TEX matched the community with specialist scientists from Saint Louis University and the U.S. Geographical Survey. The USGS outfitted a simple but effective flood warning system. At the Citizens Committee’s July meeting, guests included: U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, officials from Jefferson County and the City of De Soto, and folks from the Army Corps, East-West Gateway Council, Union Pacific Railroad, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Transportation, USGS and FEMA. They didn’t have enough chairs for all the VIPs!

Tammy Holt Still and Denise Ross of Lemmon Valley Swan Lake Recovery Committee in Nevada worked with their TEX scientist, Mark Walker (University of Nevada), to research and protest a planned housing development in the watershed. Guess what happened? It was rejected by the Washoe County Planning Commission!

Sarah Wilkins editor