August 8 – San Diego Coastkeeper Launches Community Advisory Council at Signs of the Tide

Tuesday’s public forum also imparts effective advocacy advice from elected officials, advocates

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 8, 2012—At Tuesday’s Signs of the Tide, San Diego Coastkeeper announced its search for founding members of its new Community Advisory Council, a group that will help Coastkeeper find and fix water quality issues that San Diego County communities face. The announcement followed a formal presentation by elected officials and advocates aimed at helping attendees to become more effective activists.


According to Coastkeeper’s Waterkeeper Jill Witkowski, the founding members of the Community Advisory Council will represent different communities from across the county. The goal of the new advisory group is to help Coastkeeper identify water quality problems impacting
neighborhoods in the county and collaborate on ways to solve those problems.


“It’s part of our new find and fix philosophy grounded in building relationships with individuals in our communities,” said Witkowski. “After hearing advocacy advice from tonight’s panel of experts, I know this group’s passion and community leadership paired with our insider connections and legal expertise will greatly improve fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County.”


Experts speaking at Signs of the Tide included event moderator and former Councilmember Donna Frye leading a Q&A-style session with San Diego City Council President Tony Young, former staff member at San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board Art Coe and former
Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan.


Without exception, all four speakers suggested that an individual must build credibility to become an effective advocate for the community. According to the speakers, building credibility means advocates must understand the other side, ensure accuracy, know the law that applies
to the issue and build relationships.


“Don’t only meet with me when you need something,” said Young. “Stop in to introduce yourself, who you are and what you do.” Young is the only councilmember who holds open office hours once a week.


Wan added that she recommends calling or emailing decision makers to thank them for taking leadership on particular issues, even it’s not an issue that an activist is actively pushing. Because, as Frye said, “It’s all about building relationships.”


One final theme throughout the evening revolved around respect—for the other side, the decision makers and the process.


“Build bridges, not barriers to the other advocates because you’ll run into the same people time and time again,” said Coe.


To help San Diego County activists access contact information and hearing schedules and agendas for decision-making bodies in San Diego County, Coastkeeper published a website listing all of the essential information. (


To learn more about the Community Advisory Council, please read about the group online. San Diego County residents can apply to become a Community Advisory Council member today downloading this application form. Coastkeeper will accept applications until Aug. 31, 2012. The
nonprofit will notify selected individuals to join the council for the 2012-2013 year by October 1, 2012.


For more information, please visit localhost/sdcoastkeeper.




SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. Visit us online at http://