For you to be successful in carrying out advocacy on behalf of riverine communities, you first of all need to gain the trust of such communities’ members. In my experience, this is not always easy. Members of these sorts of marginalized communities tend to be folks who, over time, have come to distrust people. These tend to be folks who have previously been ‘used’ to push certain agendas. These tend to be folks who have previously been used by activists to earn money, without really benefiting in any tangible way. They therefore tend to be (understandably) distrustful. Therefore the question arises, as to what you need to do, as a riverine community advocate, to earn the trust of the riverine communities members.
In order to earn the trust of riverine community members, you need to convince them that you genuinely have their best interests at heart. You also need to honest with them, with respect to what you are seeking to gain. You will have a difficult time trying to convince the people in these riverine communities that you are acting out of pure altruism, and that you have ‘absolutely nothing to gain’ from your advocacy. Surely, there must be something you are trying to gain: even if it is just a bullet point in your activist resume, a political base or anything else along those lines. Be honest. Be upfront. And the people will trust you.
It helps too if you use the right type of organization in your advocacy for riverine community members’ rights. It makes very little sense for you to use a Sunbiz corporation for this sort of work. True, the entity in question may be one that is genuinely operating as a non-profit venture — going by its Sunbiz annual report. But the nature of people is such that they tend to take things at face value. And if they get the impression that yours is, more or less, a business venture trying to make a profit out of them, they will have difficulties trusting you. But then again, as we have just said, if you are upfront about your intentions, you will have an easy enough time gaining the trust of the people on whose behalf you will be trying to carry out advocacy work. This applies even if your advocacy work is actually driven by the profit motive.