Cape Cod Ponds Network: Communication and Outreach Strategies
The Cape Cod Commission and Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) convened the Cape Cod Ponds Network in 2022 in response to growing concern over the health of Cape Cod's 890 freshwater ponds. More than 40 pond stewardship organizations and many interested and concerned citizens are involved.
The Ponds Network convened for the fourth time in February 2023. Nearly 70 people dedicated to and interested in improving and maintaining the quality of our region's ponds and lakes attended to learn more about communication and outreach efforts ponds groups can take to educate, inform, and engage citizens.
Guest speaker Ryan Mitchell of the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) started the meeting with a spirited discussion about the myriad of communications efforts his organization employs to raise awareness, drive engagement, and encourage behavior change.
LCPB's communication efforts include print publications, social media, video, and partnerships with local television stations. Humor, Mitchell noted, has also been effective. The organization's "Don't P on your lawn" campaign encouraged residents to reduce household phosphorous use. Mitchell highlighted the organization’s Clean Water Commitment, an effort to reduce phosphorous in the watershed.
Additional efforts involve engaging partners for art projects, in-person programs, and informal gatherings that bring people together to hear from an expert speaker and talk neighbor-to-neighbor.
Pond groups on Cape Cod have also found success when meeting neighbors face to face. "I've tried hard to make it personal," said Mary Grauerholz of Deep Pond Preservation Project. She and a few others knocked on hundreds of doors to connect with homeowners around the pond, resulting in increased engagement and knowledge of pond issues.
Meeting people face to face can be time-consuming, but it leaves a lasting impression, said Chris Dennis, who went door-to-door after she helped found Friends of Peters Pond about a year ago. She says residents feel included when they can share their concerns and stories about the pond.
A paddleboard jaunt around the pond helped Susan Dangel, president of the Save Mashpee-Wakeby Alliance to connect with neighbors. Dangel spent a summer day paddling around the pond, stopping at residents' docks to chat. Concerned about cyanobacteria blooms, she worked to create a network of residents, became involved in local government, and began the annual Make a Splash fundraiser to raise awareness and funds to support the effort.
Ponds Network attendees also learned about opportunities to educate residents using freshwater workshop modules available through the Cape Cod WETfest, as well as other modules developed by an AmeriCorps Cape Cod service member.
To learn more about the Cape Cod Ponds Network, visit capecodcommission.org/our-work/cape-cod-ponds-network or apcc.org/cape-cod-ponds-network/.
Watch a recording of the February meeting here: Cape Cod Pond Network, Meeting 4, 2/27/2023