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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Who’s a Natural Awakenings Reader?: Meet John G. Heim

Oct 30, 2015 08:50AM

Life’s mission: To leave the world a better place, insure that clean water is recognized as a basic human right and restore the “River of Grass”.

Work: I manage The Dog House, an open-air restaurant on Fort Myers Beach.

Proudest Achievements: During his first term, I not only got to shake President Obama’s hand at the demonstration for the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s Rights, held at Harborside Event Center, I also got to speak to him one-on-one for about 10 minutes.

In 2013, out of 400 clean water activists who participated in organized bus trips to Washington, D.C., I got to speak directly to Congress about clean water.

In 2014, I was selected by American Rivers, which protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers and conserves clean water for people and nature, as a U.S. River Champion. The award recognized my efforts to promote clean water consciousness for the Southwest Florida Gulf waters, stop the flow of dirty water from Lake Okeechobee into the Gulf of Mexico and organize the local Hands Across the Sand on Fort Myers Beach.

Expectations for the Future: I would like to see more local residents joining our efforts to form a caring community that is willing to unite their voices in speaking up and demonstrating a commitment to the issue of educating visitors about the dangers of the bacteria and unhealthy algae growth (red tide) that kills sea life, and the Gulf waters upon which our local economies depend. The Lake Okeechobee polluted discharges are largely received via the Caloosahatchee River. I also expect clean water to be recognized as a human right, as well as the sugar industry held accountable for the cleanup of Lake Okeechobee and highly regulated discharges.

Favorite app: Any that offers education on water quality.

Favorite website: Facebook.com / BullSugar.org, which is dedicated to stopping polluted discharges into the St. Lucie River, Caloosahatchee River and Indian River lagoon.

Local causes supported: I support the Southwest Florida Clean Water Movement and the end of Lake Okeechobee discharges.

Favorite thing about Natural Awakenings: I appreciate how the calendars keep our communities connected to the important things happening in Collier and Lee counties.

How you invest in your community: I have been a community activist for 20 years.

Favorite quote: “If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” Eldridge Cleaver

What you are doing to be the change you want to see in the world: As a clean water activist for 20 years, I’ve been working to make sure that future generations have clean water to drink and that all the marine life can thrive. Due to Lake Okeechobee discharges 100 percent of our oyster beds have been wiped out. The effects of the discharges have been creeping further south, into the Bonita Beach area, and eventually will reach Naples. These are reasons why I will continue to demonstrate. I believe that polluted water and killing our marine life should not be acceptable side effects of progress.

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