“Imagine a virtual space that brings together different ways of knowing and appreciating the Great Lakes from western science to Indigenous perspectives, provides an immersive and interactive experience, and encourages users to get out there and get involved in Ontario’s Great Lakes protection and restoration efforts.” - Great Lakes Office, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
This is the premise of the Great Lakes Virtual Space (GLVS).
The need for a virtual gathering space focusing on the Great Lakes emerged at the inaugural meeting of the Great Lakes Guardians’ Council in 2016. Council members, who include Great Lakes Ministers, municipal representatives and First Nations and Métis representatives, agreed that current information on the Great Lakes is scattered or not easily accessible. They also highlighted the need to foster a cross-cultural understanding of the Great Lakes, while strengthening the growth and coordination of Great Lakes science and building a strong sense of identity for the Lakes.
The GLVS will be more than just a repository of information and is envisioned as:
A space that evokes a connection to the Great Lakes – through storytelling, education, multimedia, Indigenous perspectives, scientific information, networking and other creative tools – that results in behavioural changes to support greater protection of the Great Lakes.
Lura, in partnership with Mouth Media, ventured into a new realm of practice for this exciting project and led the development of a concept plan to define and give shape to the virtual gathering space. The development process included a design charrette and follow-up conversations which revealed an opportunity to create a virtual space that focuses on Ontario, includes Indigenous knowledge or perspectives, and stimulate action to protect the Great Lakes. This feedback inspired the concept plan tagline – Connect. Love. Act. – and overall concept for a virtual space designed for learners of all ages that is fun, interactive and creates an emotional attachment to the Great Lakes.
The concept plan provides suggestions on a path forward for the virtual space around user experiences, supporting actions, content, tools and strategies, and considerations for implementation.
A separate process is being initiated by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to design, host, build, moderate and maintain the GLVS.