What is it about?

This article explores some of the dynamics of the beginnings of a social action organization by looking at the opposition to water bottling that emerged in the mid-2000s in Ontario, Canada. The organization and campaigns that got started then have had SOME success, and, regardless, are still going and continually evolving. This article is a "chapter 1" in that particular organization's life and sheds light, we believe, on some of the characteristics and pitfalls in social action start up.

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Why is it important?

We think this article is important (1) because it chronicles the beginnings of an environmental advocacy organization that has considerable relevance at the provincial level here in Ontario, and (2) because there is to little material out there on the very early stages of environmental activism.


When I first moved to Guelph, in Wellington County, Ontario, a mom at my children's school bus stop was handing out postcards on behalf of the newly-formed "Wellington Water Watchers" for everyone to send in to the government to demand the denial of a permit to take water to Nestle Waters. Very quickly, I noticed this community-based opposition to water bottling spreading, coming up in casual conversations, occupying front page stories and editorial cartoons in the local newspaper, inspiring artistic-political events in the community, etc. 15+ years later, the Water Watchers (and networks) started winning some real (though incomplete) regulatory changes, being recognized in the Provincial legislature, and growing in new and interesting directions. It's an interesting case study, so Leah and I thought we would talk to the organization's early volunteers and founders while they're still around, and see what we could learn about and from those early days. This article is one of the outputs of that effort.

Dr. Robert A. Case
Renison University College

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: From concern to action: the founding of the Wellington Water Watchers and the battle against water bottling in Ontario, Canada, Local Environment, October 2022, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2022.2134321.
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