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WMEAC presents first "Blue Tie Ball" to support water protection

Tickets are available for the West Michigan Environmental Council's annual Earth Day Celebration.
The Grand River

The Grand River /Brittney Whipple

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Learn more about WMEAC's water protection programs. 

Learn more about other WMEAC upcoming events. 

This year's Earth Day Celebration, the Blue Tie Ball, will be held on April 21 from 6-10 p.m. at the Goei Center in Grand Rapids. The event aims to raise awareness and funds that will support WMEAC's efforts to protect water. Tickets are $60 for members and $75 for nonmembers. For tickets and location information, visit It is preferred that guests purchase tickets before April 14th. 

The evening will include cocktails and dinner from the Gilmore Collections and drinks by Art of the Table. The event will feature three speakers from within the community that will discuss the Teach for the Watershed program, citizen empowerment to advocate for their water and the benefits of the Rain to Roots Program, a partnership between WMEAC and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

At the end of the night, WMEAC will host an "experience auction." This type of auction will allow guests to buy experiences rather than physical items. Guests will be welcome to bid on experiences including a fly fishing expedition on the Muskegon River, kite boarding lessons and rowing lessons with the Grand Rapids Rowing Association.

The Blue Tie Ball is a fundraising event for WMEAC's water protection programs. These programs include Rain Barrel Workshops, Teach for the Watershed and Rain to Roots. Mary Robinson, Director of Development at WMEAC, said that she also hopes the event will encourage guests to participate in WMEAC's water protection programs by becoming a volunteer, committee member or activist.

The Rain Barrel Workshops provide volunteers with the materials they need to set up their own rain barrel in an effort to manage stormwater and improve water quality. In an effort to reach younger generations, the Teach for the Watershed program educates over 5,000 students in West Michigan on water quality and stormwater management. "This program is important because it teaches students the impact even just their family can make on water protection," said Robinson. Rain to Roots is a newer program that encourages the use of green infrastructure as a stormwater management technique such as planting trees, building rain gardens and installing rain barrels.

According to Robinson, stormwater runoff in Grand Rapids will reach the Grand River in about fifteen minutes. WMEAC's  low-impact development programs help to address this and many other water quality issues in West Michigan.

WMEAC is also working on a Michigan Water Trails project to identify issues and opportunities for tourism along the Michigan shoreline. The project is an effort to responsibly manage the ongoing use of the water trails on and around the Great Lakes, mainly by providing amenities to make them easier to use. Robinson said that the Michigan Water Trails project is "protecting water for tourism-the kind that cares about clean water."

When planning the event, WMEAC chose the name "Blue Tie Ball" to represent the idea that water is a blue thread connecting everyone together. Robinson said similar to the ancient Chinese proverb depicting an invisible red thread that connects those destined to meet together, the blue thread represents water and its connection to everyone. "Water is a viable resource needed by everyone in the world, so its protection is necessary," she said. The event will give guests the opportunity to reflect on water protection while also celebrating WMEAC's victories and impact on water protection in West Michigan. Robinson said that the Blue Tie Ball should "bring us back to the blue thread."

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