A Bold Vision to Strengthen Connections Between People and Nature

    August 30, 2017
    by Jason Morris

    Ensuring that opportunities to learn from and connect with nature are accessible in all communities lies at the heart of Blue Sky’s mission. Blue Sky members each approach this mission differently, and our field encompasses an enormous range of organizations that work at this intersection of people and the environment. From outdoor recreation, to environmental and STEM literacy, to nutrition and food justice, the work that Blue Sky members support and that our partners implement on the ground achieves impact in conservation, education, health and wellness, social justice, and youth development.

    The diversity of these programs has led to divergences in the ways that organizations, networks, and funders in our field define and communicate their work and its importance. However, this diversity can—and  should—be a strength. This year, Blue Sky members and partners identified the need for shared, unifying messaging and a call to action that can be adopted by the field—in all its diversity—to build broader support for our work. With this collective goal in mind, Blue Sky leaders looked toward our annual national convening in September and decided to take the opportunity to make progress toward creating a unifying message and call to action that could strengthen the field that connects people and nature.

    Beyond collaboration, realizing this bold vision will require expertise in messaging and marketing. This summer, Blue Sky leaders and advisors engaged in a process to identify a partner with experience designing campaigns for social change, convening stakeholders, and working with nonprofits to help guide our collective thinking. We are excited to work with Sukle, a Denver-based ad agency that has demonstrated success in motivating action around conservation and connecting people and nature, for the upcoming Blue Sky Funders Forum in Seattle on September 27.

    Among Sukle’s most compelling and acclaimed campaigns is its water conservation campaign for Denver Water. The “Use Only What You Need” campaign aimed to reduce water consumption by issuing a positive, clear, and compelling call to Denver residents to use only the water they needed. Enhanced by creative and original billboards and signage throughout the city, the campaign was an enormous success. Recognized as the most effective water conservation campaign in the United States, Sukle’s work for Denver Water resulted in a 21% reduction in water usage in the first three months of the campaign, with 71% of Denver Water customers reporting changes in consumption.

    We know that any shared messaging campaign undertaken by Blue Sky members will require deep engagement and buy-in from all of our partners. And we invite our members and all funders who care about the future of people and nature to join us in Seattle on September 27.

    Jason Morris is a senior program officer at the Pisces Foundation, focusing on Environmental Education. In this role, Jason leads the Foundation’s grantmaking in environmental education and implements strategies to shape environmental education initiatives nationally. Jason serves as chair of the Blue Sky Funders Forum steering committee.

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