Woman in front of map of Delaware watershed
Meg McGuire giving a talk about the Delaware River watershed. PHOTO BY CHRIS MELE

Happy birthday to us!

| August 28, 2023

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Happy birthday to us,

Happy birthday to us,

Happy birthday, Delaware Currents,

Happy birthday to us!

Yep. Eight years old, born on July 29, 2015.

And as the Grateful Dead once said: What a long strange trip it’s been!!

My first story was about kids learning about freshwater mussels in the Brandywine under the watchful eye of Kurt Cheng from the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

The PDE was one of the first river organizations I reached out to because I like how it tries to host a table for all interests — and isn’t that how we make progress together? 

And here’s the second — it hit ALL the marks, with scientists from the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University seeing how healthy the fish were in the upper reaches of the Lehigh River AND William Penn Foundation‘s Delaware River Watershed Initiative.

Both are two stalwarts supporting the improvements we’re all working for.

It took me until February of 2016 to get my arms around another lynchpin: the Delaware River Basin Commission and its Water Quality Advisory Committee.

The DRBC, especially its scientists, engineers and communications staff, deserve a special thanks from me. 

Listening to its advisory committee meetings has been the way I’ve learned about the river and the broader basin, as well as from countless other smart people all over the basin who have spared the time to help me understand this amazing river of ours.

The other thread in this trip is the story that I’ve told countless times, and will tell again: I started with nothing. I was short on knowledge about the river and even shorter on the knowledge it takes to run a website and the know-how about making it sustainable. 

So, the first stop on that rather tortuous learning path was LIONS: Local Independent Online News Publishers, an amazing resource for a growing piece of the news ecosystem — online news sites.

For the first few years, I ran it on money I stole from myself — my retirement income (I was forced into early retirement). I was about to abandon ship when I discovered NewsMatch, which by now many of you are familiar with. 

It’s a project of the Institute for Nonprofit News, which gathers money from the big journalism funders, like the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Google News Initiative and lots more. It matches what its members raise in November and December. I’m getting close to raising $10,000 each year. The match means I get another $10,000 — so thank you all for that!!

Then the big break came when I received funding from the William Penn Foundation about two years ago. It’s an honor to receive money from such a remarkable resource for developing a sustainable network of organizations rooted in the basin.

And saving the best news, I think, for last: The Society of Environmental Journalists is coming to Philadelphia for its next national conference in the spring 2024. And I’m one of its co-chairs!

In that role, I will get to share what I’ve learned about this terrific region, and have the chance to work with some remarkable journalists who work here too.

Together we’ll be creating a conference for a national audience of journalists, educators and students — all coming here. We’ll help them learn what we already know: that the river is a miracle and that the basin is a great place to live!

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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