Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Fresh Perspective

The Lake Minnetonka Association (LMA) was fortunate to have had Andrew Bredeson as a summer intern last year. Andrew spent much of his youth visiting his grandparents on West Arm Bay and has a love for Lake Minnetonka. I asked Andrew to summarize his impressions and experiences following his internship this past summer. Below is an excerpt from his summary.

“I learned so many things from the three months I spent working with the LMA.

I learned that most people are hesitant and guarded when asked for a moment of their time or a contribution. That said, almost all those who gave me a few minutes were on board with the concern of the LMA and the vulnerability of Lake Minnetonka.

I learned that many people are very results driven – for example, they gave money for the milfoil treatments then were put off when asked for further contributions ("I've already given you guys money, why do I need to give more??)

I learned that the fear of aquatic invasive species introductions is widespread. I heard so many times that not enough is being done to prevent the introduction of zebra mussels.

I learned that I personally do not enjoy calling people and asking them for money, even when it is for a cause I know is incredibly important to the preservation of the lake I love and so many others also love.

I learned that it is frustrating and difficult to have to deal with governmental organizations to get things done. It seems to me that to gain more leverage with the LMCD and other governmental organizations, the LMA must persuade lakeshore residents to pester these officials and representatives repeatedly until they feel a greater sense of urgency to deal with problems like insufficient AIS prevention plans, outdated/inefficient methods of milfoil control, and so on.

Most importantly, I learned that ordinary (or extraordinary) citizens can indeed initiate change, frame and direct conversation, and get things done for the greater good. I also learned that these efforts can be tedious, frustrating, and exhausting, but that perseverance and effort can make a meaningful impact.

I did come away from my experience with the LMA with a sense of hope that Lake Minnetonka can be protected, but so much more needs to be done. People around Lake Minnetonka need to realize that their direct involvement, be it with financial contributions, showing up at LMCD meetings to voice their opinions, calling state legislators, etc., is crucial to the preservation and betterment of the Lake.

A prevailing attitude of many Lakeshore owners seems to be something like: "I will take care of myself and do what is right for me, my neighbors will do what's right for them and everything will be fine." This needs to change so that all lakeshore owners realize "What is right for me and my neighbors, should also be right for Lake Minnetonka as a whole." This may sound idealistic, but I feel this mentality needs to be encouraged as much as possible.

I also detected in some people a sense of despair. Some people felt that the problems and threats facing the lake were too large, and that not enough could be done to protect the lake so why even try. This did not seem to be the majority opinion, but a significant one nonetheless.

I learned so much more in the three months I was with the LMA. Keep up the good work and thanks for all you and the LMA do.”

Andrew is spending this year as a Team Leader with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and is based in Denver, Colorado.

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