Healthy water, healthy people: Dane County Land and Water Resources Department

Collaboration with local, state and federal
Healthy water, healthy people: Dane County Land and Water Resources Department

Healthy water, healthy people: Dane County Land and Water Resources DepartmentLandowners and farmers historically have worked well with the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department on conservation goals, thanks in large part to work by department director Kevin Connors and comprehensive collaboration of local, state and federal agencies.

This often-behind-the-scenes work on projects important to farmers has produced results. One significant payoff is a $1.6 million federal grant, awarded to a team of Dane County stakeholders led by the Clean Lakes Alliance, to help pay for work to reduce the volume of phosphorus runoff into the lakes. By tailoring the work to the needs of the community, this inclusive approach to improve community and watersheds across Dane County through the innovative use of unconventional practices has built trust and additional partnerships. In addition, through network gatherings, LWRD has fostered a culture of mutual contribution of all interested in reducing runoff. To strengthen capacity, LWRD provides support and direction to the Dane County Watershed Network in the belief that controlling phosphorus runoff is a long-term venture that needs to be supported by a diverse rural and urban community.

What is social innovation?

According to Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review, social innovation is a “novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than existing solutions” and benefits primarily society as a whole rather than private individuals.

It includes these elements:

Increasing employment, productivity and economic growth

Justice, fairness, environmental preservation, improved health, arts and culture and better education

A social innovation:

Can be a product, production process or technology (much like innovation in general), but it can also be a principle, an idea, a piece of legislation, a social movement, an intervention or some combination of them.

Recognizes the fundamental role of cross-sector dynamics: exchanging ideas and values, shifting roles and relationships and blending public, philanthropic and private resources. Innovation blossoms where the sectors converge.

Can’t be understood, let alone solved, without involving the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

The M List
Madison Magazine‘s M List is a who’s who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its third year, the M List recognizes those making strides in the area of social innovation. Last year’s list of innovators were in the food industry. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored “Foodtastic” entrepreneurs and innovators.

Click here to return to the 2015 M List.