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Mission & Philosophy

Our Mission

The Ocean River Institute connects donors and advocates with specific community-based opportunities to practice stewardship, save wildlife and protect ecosystems with environmental education, science, and conservation by facilitating the grassroots efforts of groups working at local and regional levels.

Our Philosophy

The Ocean River Institute operates based on the belief that many environmental issues can be addressed best by people taking action in their own communities and regions, not by national or international entities. In this respect, ORI’s work is grounded in the principle of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is “an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.”[1] ORI supports the efforts of localized and small-scale environmental organizations by providing expertise, services, resources, and information that are needed by those organizations, but which are not available at the small or local scale. We call this approach environmental subsidiarity.

Our Partners

Environmental groups that are small, local, regional and/or newly formed often find that they could benefit from outside help to achieve their goals. That’s where the Ocean River Institute comes in. We maintain a network of ORI Partners, connecting these organizations with resources and services to help them maximize their impact, expand their capacity, and weather unanticipated setbacks. For example, ORI’s role might be to quickly raise money to replace broken monitoring equipment for a river or coastal group. Or, for a group that lacks a website, we can set up a web page with information about an upcoming event. If your organization is interested in Partnering with ORI, please contact us.

Examples of ORI services

  • ORI acts the fiscal agent for the newly formed Virgin Islands Environmental Council, enabling them to obtain and manage funding. ORI also helped the Council engage thousands of people from around the world in an educational effort to protect ecosystems in the Virgin Islands.
  • In spring 2008, ORI responded rapidly with equipment and materials needed by the Coastal Bird Program for monitoring and protecting nesting piper plovers on Cape Cod.
  • Working with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Conservation Law Foundation, and Ocean Conservancy, ORI raised public awareness of the need for comprehensive ocean management in Massachusetts, leading to passage of the Massachusetts Ocean Act.
  • In 2007, ORI helped Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) youth organizers in Boston to plan and carry out a Diesel DeTox campaign for cleaner air in their neighborhoods.