“Water Ways” Program Sets New Path for Water Education
Saturday June 25 marked the official opening of the “Water Ways” program, which will travel to six sites across Minnesota over the next 18 months or so. The Minnesota Humanities Center is the lead partner on this multi-faceted, path-breaking project; the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Kandiyohi County is the local partner for the first series of programs. More information, background, resources for educators and links to related programs such as story maps are available here.
There are a lot of things to like about the Water Ways project:
- It begins with understandings from indigenous people about the local relationships to water and sense of “here.” Once we know “where” we are, we can begin to connect with other systems and relationships that make up “who” we are.
- The grounding in local experience and place makes the effort to “make water visible and understandable” much more accessible. Many of us have had the basic lessons on the water cycle, but seeing how that works in your town or neighborhood makes the lesson much more memorable.
- The projects depend on the participation of a wide range of community partners. It’s not every day that humanities programmers team up with environmental learning centers! During the first installation of the program alone, there is a children’s concert, two additional music festivals, two paddling events, three community celebrations and a presentation by the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Lower Sioux Community. The Prairie Woods calendar of events is here.
The federal, state, and media partners and sponsors for Water Ways is a “who’s who” of water and natural resource agencies and groups associated with public programming and community engagement. Truly a wide-ranging and remarkable set of relationships, all of which focus on directing community attention to water.