The Great Salt Lake Collaborative was created in October 2021 to illuminate how people can better support the shrinking Great Salt Lake through solutions stories, reaching new audiences, elevating the issue of the lake’s crisis and thus impacting change in water policy and water conservation. Digital, television, commercial and public radio stations, along with print outlets in Utah are embarking on joint solution reporting projects and community outreach efforts. Thirteen news organizations that in the past have competed for viewers/listeners have already shared nearly 120 articles about the lake. We created a website to share all of those stories (greatsaltlakenews.org).
Journalists have trained on how to identify and investigate solutions as they write about the impacts of the shrinking lake on Utah’s climate, summer and winter outdoor recreation, lake ecology, brine shrimp cyst production (sea monkey), bird ecosystems, tourism, and public health. Ten community organizations representing scientists, writers, librarians, researchers, historians, and artists are educating the public about new ways to appreciate and protect the lake. We are bringing people to the lake and the lake to the people through social media, trivia nights, tabling at various community events, and launching lake tours. Library events, a writing contest, as well as a short-film competition for youth have also been held. The project has brought together underrepresented interests, including members of eight federally recognized sovereign tribes of Utah, to provide opportunities to share their history and solution ideas.
We organized and sponsored a “Salty” trivia gaming night, Coffee and Conversations, community and policy maker forums, a film screening, and Earth Day events with more to come. A radio and podcast series, Lake Effect, began with an invitation to Utah residents asking them to share their Great Salt Lake experiences through audio storytelling. Sixth grade students and their instructor responded and shared stories about playing with their siblings in the lake, riding bikes around the shore, birdwatching, and their concerns as they watch the lake disappear. We even partnered with Salt Lake Tribune cartoon artist, Pat Bagley, who created our collaborative mascot for pins, removable tattoos and stickers to bring awareness and have a bit of fun.