Water Bar also functions as an experiential learning laboratory for emerging environmental leaders of all ages and backgrounds to get to know the systems upon which our lives depend, from researchers to policy makers to engaged public artists.
Volunteers and interns tend bar and work together through partnerships with non-profit organizations and public agencies. These partners share background information and resources on our water system, water issues, and potential solutions to water problems. As Water Bar water tenders, volunteers learn about and serve water, setting the tone for the project by asking questions and introducing personal stories and experiences. They also facilitate exchange with visitors, and in the process, share what they know while gaining valuable public engagement experience.
Water Bar is a public art project rooted in place and purpose
As water is gathered from surrounding communities to be served at Water Bar - from the ordinary taps of local businesses and municipal water treatment facilities - we engage directly with the complexities surrounding our waters and the places they sustain. These variables become material from which Water Bar is drawn - from the condition of available source waters, to purification technologies, to the individuals who maintain water treatment facilities, public policies, economics, aesthetics and ecology.
Over time, the results of the conversations and connections made at Water Bar spin-off into new or existing art, design and media projects. They also accumulate amongst a loose network of individual artists and collaborating organizations. We gather written reflections from volunteers and visitors about their experience, as well as photos shared on social media, commentary on current events, and other documentation, and we use this material to produce culturally and geographically appropriate art and design projects that connect the conversations at the bar to a wider audience, including policy makers, public educators and water resource scientists.