Culture is "upstream"
of policy & behavior
According to a recent World Economic Forum survey, 750 of the world’s top business and political leaders say that water crisis is the top global risk to industry and society over the next decade. At the same time, access to safe and affordable drinking water is a concern in local communities across the United States, with low-income people and people of color experiencing the impacts of water insecurity first and worst. Climate change only raises the stakes, as most people will first experience the impacts of climate chaos through changes to water: Either too much, too little, or as a threat to water quality.
Water is one of the most critical elements shaping our future, yet most of us don't know where our drinking water comes from, much less how to influence the systems and policies that protect it.
An artist-led one water resilience hub for minnesota
Though Minnesota is known for our abundance of water, we are not without water challenges. Cooperation across sectors and in communities is critical to our future, but many of us are disconnected from water sources, water systems, water work, and one another.
We believe this is a problem not just for science, engineering, policy or economics—but for the culture that shapes our values and relationships.
In order to solve systemic problems like water equity and access, environmental sustainability, and climate resilience - we need a shift in culture: From one that sees water only as a resource to be managed or regulated by professionals, to one in which water is understood and valued for the multitude of ways it inspires, connects, and sustains lives and communities - so that more people are inspired and equipped to join efforts to protect water and public health.
Our Work To Date
Since we incorporated as a social enterprise in 2016, Water Bar & Public Studio has been working to build relationships and networks across sector and in community, with the goal of supporting artistic leadership and shifting the culture of water work in Minnesota.
In 2018, the non-profit organization Freshwater identified a need for culture shift in their own water work. They applied and received support from Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) to pilot a new public program designed by Water Bar & Public Studio to blend cultural stories with science and policy, in order to better serve water in north and northeast Minneapolis.
As part of this pilot project, community artists led 5 water story circles that engaged 50 people from local neighborhoods. From these circles, “Water Tending School” was developed, a creative leadership program that prepares water resource professionals and community residents to serve water together, using Water Bar as a platform to exchange culture, share personal stories, and convey critical information about water science and policy in culturally-relevant ways and places.
To date, 85 people from government agencies, environmental NGO's, local businesses, and our North and Northeast neighborhoods have participated in this new "Water Tending School" pilot, and are now in the process of developing their own culturally-relevant community engagement strategies for water.
Already this program has led to a shift in the culture surrounding water work in our community, and there is demand for more opportunities like this to deepen connections with community, collaborate across sector, and practice creative skills in service to water and more equitable water systems.
About One Water Hub
Parallel to this program pilot, Water Bar & Public Studio has been developing a network of water and environment partners who are eager to integrate arts and culture strategies into their own public-facing work. We’ve been slowly developing a cohort of community-based artists that are inspired and equipped to lead activities in this space, and we’ve been working with national network partners like ArtPlace America and US Water Alliance to help shape a conversation about advancing water work through arts and culture across the US.
Water Bar & Public Studio, along with our partners, are seeking support to launch the One Water Hub — a collaborative space and network where artists inspire and lead a shift in the culture of water work. The primary activity of the One Water Hub will be to expand the impact of our successful Water Tending School pilot and related artist-led engagement strategies.
Transform public conversation and engagement on water issues in Minnesota, with strategies that are culturally-relevant and a visible part of everyday life.
Improve cross-sector and community collaborations to achieve more equitable water outcomes, using shared work and practice to build relationships.
Increase public awareness and support for local water plans and projects, by making planning spaces more vital and inclusive.
Grow the adoption of arts-based strategies for water work across Minnesota, and in the process, grow opportunities for local artists to make impact while earning a living.
One Water Hub activities will shift the culture surrounding water work in Minnesota by integrating artists and cultural strategies into water science and policy work.
Hub Partners will be invited to participate in a series of activities designed and led by Hub Artists. These activities will prioritize the participation of individuals from Hub Partner organizations, but will also invite public attendance - with an emphasis on drawing participants from low-income communities, indigenous communities, communities of color, and artist communities - whose leadership is critical to this work, and who we will reach through Hub Artists and their existing networks.
Monthly “Water Tending School” Workshops
This day-long workshop provides in-depth storytelling and listening exercises, empathy and relationship-building activities, the opportunity to practice holding space while facilitating conversation at the Water Bar, and the latest information about water and climate science and policy. We will offer this program 12 times in year-one, training a total of 480 new "Water Tenders" from our Hub Partner network and local communities.
Weekly “Water Story Circles”
These drop-in story circles create space for individuals to process their water-related work and challenges in a group setting, and to make new connections across sector and in community. Spaces like this are critical to helping individuals address the challenges of leadership during times of cultural shift.
Weekly Public Studio Hours
We offer free collaborative work space for Hub Partners at our art/science community storefront in Northeast Minneapolis.
Water Tender Volunteer Opportunities
Hub Partner employees are invited to tend water at the Water Bar storefront, at public Water Bar pop-ups like the Minnesota State Fair, and at professional conferences.
One Water Hub Newsletter & Storytelling
We will create and send a monthly newsletter to all Hub Partners and public participants with stories about Hub Artists, Hub Partners, and their collaborative work.
Artists in our community are already advancing creative strategies to engage people in critical conversations and action for water equity and resilience. We will support their ongoing efforts by offering creative community space, financial support, and by mentoring artists through new relationships and collaborations as needed.
Government Partners: The government agencies we work with look to Water Bar to enhance their public education and engagement work. We will help to build their relationships with artists and communities, and to incubate new collaborations on water and climate issues facing our local communities.
Academic / Research Partners: The University of Minnesota is our core academic partner. We will help community artists and organizations connect with University resources, while also connecting faculty and students with community knowledge and possibilities for collaboration.
Environmental and Community Organization Partners: We work with environmental and community organizations to enhance their public engagement and education. We offer these organizations an opportunity to learn, listen, and take transformational experiences back to their organizations. We will help to facilitate collaborations between these organizations and Hub Artists that meet mutual goals for serving water.
Business Partners: The water sector in Minnesota includes engineering firms, food and farming businesses, and a dozen fortune 500 companies. We will work with our business partners to build opportunities for people in our neighborhood to learn about careers in the water sector, and will engage with companies to advance sustainability goals.
National Network / Learning Partners: These national networks and organizations will advise and engage as learning partners, bringing promising ideas and strategies to their networks and communities through case studies, white papers, convenings, and other storytelling projects.
We're seeking investment in this critical work. With financial support, we will be able to hire a One Water Hub Cultural Organizer, support Hub Artists and neighborhood partners, and support community space at our Minneapolis storefront.