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Project LogoAbout the Project

The White Lake Environmental History Project began in June 2012 and will continue through May 2013 and beyond, if funds are acquired for the next phase. It is being implemented by the White Lake Community Library and Great Lakes Consulting.

Answering Questions

The project is an attempt to answer the questions: What were the circumstances surrounding the lake’s historical pollution? How did we get White Lake cleaned up?

Local resident Tanya Cabala, of Great Lakes Consulting, had been involved with the efforts of the White Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC) to clean up White Lake for several decades and wanted to answer these questions. She felt a project to explore answers would be important for a number of reasons:

Tanya sought the White Lake Community Library as a partner, as there was already a strong interest in collecting and maintaining historical resources for the community. Shelley Williams, the library’s new director, was very much interested in knowing more about the community’s pollution issues and local history. The library board was equally as enthusiastic about the project. And so it began.

View the video of Tanya Cabala's interview about this project.

Developing the Project

The first step was to find funds to support the project. The Michigan Humanities Council was approached. Its staff suggested first applying for a planning grant to clarify the project’s goals into a workplan. The library, working with Tanya, applied for and received funds for a planning grant to convene key community members in a workshop. It was led by Great Lakes author, Dave Dempsey, and retired history professor and local history author, Dan Yakes. They guided the group in a discussion focused on developing an approach to discover and understand the objective facts surrounding White Lake’s environmental history, and the community’s response to the history.

The workshop attendees enthusiastically brainstormed ideas on themes and issues, a chronology and geographic area to cover, sources of information, historical context, audience, information gathering techniques, program and exhibit ideas, fund sources, and creation of a project advisory council. A leading goal was to engage the White Lake area community fully in the project by utilizing a website and community blog, conducting oral interviews, and presenting educational events. A vision of the project in two phases took shape. The initial stage would focus on collecting community input and creating a digital resource. A final phase would incorporate the community input received and research of historical facts into a comprehensive publication.

Funding the Project

MHC LogoA grant application was submitted to the Michigan Humanities Council in March 2012 for the first phase and additional sponsors were sought. In May 2012, the Michigan Humanities Council awarded a grant to support the project and several months later financial support had been gained from

Project Goals

Project Activities

The result will be a comprehensive documentation of the impact of one of the community’s most challenging and controversial eras. This is hoped to be the foundation for a positive, sustainable environmental and economic path forward.

Project Feedback

We would like to know how we are doing. We have outlined our goals and planned activities on this page. If you have attended any events, offered any materials, or participated in any way, we would like to hear from you. Click on the Feedback button below and send us you thoughts.

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