Conservation in Action: What will our legacy be for Georgia’s coast?
Saving the Swamp (Tues, Feb 1) – For decades, the threat of mining has been bearing down on communities in and around the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the largest freshwater swamp in North America. From these threats, powerful local leaders have emerged to combat the outside corporate proposals that exploit rural communities and threaten the health of the swamp. In this session, moderated by Jason Carter, we heard from community leaders engaging others to fight the proposed mine, as well as those working to promote an alternative vision for economic development in Southeastern Georgia – one that celebrates the Okefenokee and its people. Panelists include: Kim Bednarek, Executive Director of Okefenokee Swamp Park; Sam Collier, Real Estate Investor and Shareholder Advocate for Sustainability; and Jane Winkler, local activist and volunteer with the Cherokee of Georgia. Watch the recording here.
Coming Together to Right the Wrongs (Tues, Feb 8) – Coastal Georgia’s vast salt marsh, abundant wildlife, and undeveloped beaches make our coast both ecologically valuable and unique. But these 100 miles hold too many untold stories that reveal widespread exploitation and indifference to both people and nature – the effects of which have been devastating to many residents across our coast. Moderated by journalist Mary Landers of The Current, this panel of local experts discussed three specific harms that coastal residents are still trying to remedy. From the Thiokol explosion in Camden County to the Golden Ray oil spill and systemic and legal challenges affecting land ownerships on Sapelo Island, panelists shared the ways in which these tragedies have affected their lives and what needs to be done in response. Panelists include: Jannie Everett with Thiokol Memorial; Ron Johnson, President of Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society (SICARS); and Fletcher Sams, Executive Director of the Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK). Watch the recording here.
The Legacy of our Land: Conservation on Georgia’s Coast (Tues, Feb 15)– Our coast is wild and rural, a mecca for people who want to escape beachfronts lined with high rise condominiums, hotels, and boardwalks. The different world the Georgia and South Carolina coasts have to offer is the result of strategic efforts by generations of conservationists in both states to protect important properties and support the passage of laws and policies that result in habitat protection for wildlife. During this session, moderated by author and biologist J. Drew Lanham, conservationists from both states discussed the strategy that has gotten us to where we are today, along with the next steps that are needed to preserve a just legacy for generations to come. They addressed issues of sea level rise, concerns about equity and inclusion, and many other important issues facing the future of the movement. Panelists include: Ashley Demothesnes of the Lowcountry Open Land Trust and Andrew Schock with The Conservation Fund. Watch the recording here.
Advocacy in Action: A Listening Session on the State of our Coast (THURSDAY*, Feb 24 • 7 pm) – What will YOUR legacy be for Georgia’s coast? Our coast needs people just like you helping those working on the ground in a variety of ways–and we need to hear from you. To close out this year’s Choosing to Lead conference, leaders from OHM, the Southern Environmental Law Center, Georgia Conservancy, and Ogeechee Riverkeeper talked about how they work together to effect positive change across our 100 miles, then opened the floor for audience feedback. This was an interactive listening session. We heard from many of you on critical issues such as sea level rise, land and wildlife conservation, environmental justice, and more. Workshop leaders include Megan Desrosiers (One Hundred Miles), Charles McMillan (Georgia Conservancy), Damon Mullis (Ogeechee Riverkeeper), and Gil Rogers (Southern Environmental Law Center). Be sure to join us in 2023 with questions and comments of your own!
VP, Education & Communications
“Choosing to Lead is open to everyone who loves this special place—students and educators, volunteers and advocates, faith leaders, elected officials, writers and artists, and more. Simply put, if you’re inspired by Georgia’s one-of-a-kind coast, this conference is for YOU!”
Please contact Catherine for more information about our 2021 Choosing to Lead series.