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One Water Hub

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We cannot recognize the environmental problems created by our way of life, nor can we develop solutions to address them, without first facing and changing the beliefs and values that have led to those problems.
— Andrew J. Hoffman, How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate

Culture is Upstream of Policy and Behavior

Our future relies on sustaining clean and accessible water for all, yet most of us are disconnected from water systems, one another, and the changes that are needed.

Siloed approaches to research, education, engagement, management, and policy-making often fail to bring the right communities to the table. In the midst of water and climate crisis, restoring and strengthening relationships: with water and with one another, is the important first step towards changing the conditions that created this crisis in the first place.

It's broadly recognized that a substantial shift in societal beliefs and values is needed to create a sustainable climate future. This is because culture is "upstream" of policy, technology, and behavior. Shifting our culture is one of the most important climate actions we can take today, if we hope to see more climate resilient people, places, and policies now and in the future. But where do you start when the change needed is so big and so urgent? We believe you start by slowing down.

From Resource to Relationship

We need to shift from a culture that sees water simply as a resource to be managed, to one that recognizes and values water for the multitude of ways it connects, inspires, and sustains all lives and places. Luckily, we already have incredibly deep and rooted frameworks to work from. The Dakota and Anishinaabe, whose homeland we call home, and indigenous peoples the world over, see water as a relative. This wisdom, rooted in indigenous knowledge and life-ways, is at the core of the One Water Hub.

What if our dominant American culture recognized our rivers, lakes, and groundwater as the source of all life in our communities—a connecting and healing presence that inspires care and a greater sense of belonging and responsibility? What would be possible then? What would become necessary?

Culture Shift for Climate Action

Water Bar & Public Studio, along with partners and supporters like the Metropolitan Council, The Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota are excited to announce the One Water Hub for Climate and Cultural Resilience.

At the core of this new community of practice is Water Tending School, an ongoing series of story circles and workshops that offer proven strategies, tools, and resources to transform your approach to water education and engagement, particularly in efforts to reach out to and build relationships with people of color, low-income folks, and rural communities.

Join us if you want to…

Water Tending School Pilot Program

Water Tending School Pilot Program

  • Transform public engagement on water issues with arts and culture strategies that lift people up and honor their inherent experiences and expertise.

  • Strengthen and diversity your decision making processes by involving more diverse communities and ways of knowing water.

  • Build unlikely coalitions and improve cross-sector collaboration to achieve better water outcomes, by participating in shared work.

  • Increase public support for local water projects by involving diverse communities and creative cultures more often and earlier in the process.

  • Be a part of building a significant cultural campaign that engages all Minnesotans in a broad cultural shift from water as a resource to water as a relative.

It is extremely exciting to see the emergence of Water Bar & Public Studio’s One Water Hub framework. The City of Saint Paul believes in a cross-sector approach to build resilience in our sustainable city and this framework creates an energized space to listen, learn, and experiment in authentic ways.
— Russ Stark, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Saint Paul

How to Get Involved

Water Tending School Pilot Program

Water Tending School Pilot Program

Hub Partners will be invited to participate in a series of activities designed and led by the Hub Cultural Community. These activities will prioritize the participation of individuals from our Hub Partner organizations, but will also invite public participation—with an emphasis on drawing participants from low-income communities, indigenous communities, communities of color, new immigrant communities, and artist communities—who we will reach through existing networks.


This day-long workshop will provide in-depth storytelling and listening exercises, empathy and relationship-building activities, information about water and climate science and policy, and practice holding space for conversation while facilitating Water Bar pop-ups.

Those who take this workshop will have access to a Water Bar "Kit" to use in their own engagement, and ongoing support from the Hub Cultural Community to develop creative and culturally meaningful strategies for building relationships across-sector and in community.


The emphasis of this program will be creating space for individuals in our growing network to process their water-related work and challenges of changing culture in a group setting, making new connections across sector and in community. Spaces like this are critical to helping individuals address the challenges of leadership and engagement during times of cultural shift and climate change.

It is often said that culture should have a seat at the table with economics and politics. I believe we will find that culture is the table at which we all sit together...
— Yo Yo Ma