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Creating a Culture of Value: An Overview of the Watershed Event Water Walk

April 23, 2014Molly Wangen-BeckerRiver MeaningComments Off on Creating a Culture of Value: An Overview of the Watershed Event Water Walk

Each generation has a different relationship with water based on how it was valued at that time. In the past we have relied on legacy to conserve the water on our planet, but this approach does not work with Generation Y, the future leaders of our water systems. Generation Y tends to use what they have right now in the most efficient way. If not based on legacy, how can we compel people to change their behaviors towards water?

Last week’s Watershed Event explored future solutions to promote the value of water. To give us an overview of the event, Miss Emily Lowery and Solange Guillaume of Students for Design Activism joined us on Tuesday’s Water Walk to talk about building a future for water in Minnesota.

Miss Emily Lowery explained that the symposium sought to explore “how our water practices are influenced by policy and the market.” To do this the event they brought together influential water thinkers from various sectors to learn about their work, perspectives, and insights on how to create a culture of value for water.

Here in the Twin Cities metro our water practices drastically differ between rural and urban areas. In what normally ends as a blame game of who is misusing water, the event speakers focused on the similarities between urban and agricultural practices and the potential economic benefits that could come from sustainable practices. The agricultural perspectives explained that rather than government mandated regulations, change in rural areas towards more ethical water usage would come by demonstrating greater crop yields through certain water practices. Urban perspectives on the other hand, would change by quantifying how much water is worth. By putting a price on water we can understand whether the money we are putting into our infrastructure is worth it. The monetization of water is a harsh reality but by putting a price to water we can get people to see the importance of management and practices.

Aside from economic benefits, the event also encouraged the need for a more personal value of water. Infrastructure can only go so far, we must rely on engagement to reframe how people interact with water. Creating and sharing our water stories help us to understand our own relationship with water. Speakers from the event also suggested putting money into creative ways to promote the value of water and our relationship to it, as well as require part of children’s education to be about water.

We have always been considered to be water rich in the Twin Cities. Just because it is not yet a scarce resource in this area doesn’t mean that we don’t need to develop a new ethic for water. Based on conversations generated by the Watershed Event and our Water Walk, I think it’s safe to say that we are on the right track to developing a culture of value for water.

Don’t forget we’re hosting Water Walks every week this month. Check back for more information on next Tuesday’s walk!

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