University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

A “Watershed Event” Indeed!

Occasionally, you find yourself at a meeting or a program where there is a sense that something really momentous has happened, that you’re in at the beginning of something that has long-lasting consequences.  Friday’s “Watershed Event” at Mill City Museum had just that feel.  From serious water geekery to a moving film about water, to important reflections on the future of water in Minnesota, this program had it all.

The meeting’s first session featured an address by Denver landscape architect Bill Wenk and a panel discussion on Minnesota’s water policy.  Important insights to be sure, but heavy on the “inside baseball” discussions of MS4 permits, CSO elimination, and the intricacies of water policy’s intersections with ag policy.  This was NOT “Water 101.”

The second half of the discussion got a little more basic, and was more accessible to folks who don’t spend all their time thinking about water.  The movie, “Watershed” focused the complexity of water management on the Colorado River through the stories of half a dozen residents of the watershed whose values and beliefs about water intersect and overlap, even if their personal experience does not.  That’s the nature of a watershed, right, all the people who share our water are people we are connected with, even though we don’t know them.

The post-screening discussion was revelatory, as such things should be.  The panelists were Matthew Tucker from the U of M Department of Landscape Architecture, Deb Swackhamer, co-director of the U of M’s Water Resource Center, and Dorene Day, a resident of the Bois Fort Ojibwe community and member of the Indigenous People’s Task Force.  When the video of the panel is available, I will post a note letting you know how to find it.  In the meantime, Dave Peters, who moderated the first panel, has posted a very thoughtful response to the event as a whole on the MPR Ground Level blog.

The hall at Mill City Museum was almost full, which means that some of you reading this were in attendance.  What did you think?  Make a comment to this post and share your views:  What was really great?  Where should this discussion go next?


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  1. Mona M SmithApril 15, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Can’t wait to see the video. Thank you for including Dorene, a protector of the water.

  2. Creating a Culture of Value: An Overview of the Watershed Event | River LifeApril 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    […] week’s Watershed Event explored future solutions to promote the value of water. To give us an overview of the event, Miss […]

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