WaterWalks: Creative Action for Community Justice
Pittsburgh, PA (2018 - present)
WaterWalks: Creative Action for Community Justice is a collaboration among artists, community-based organizations, and students to elevate marginalized perspectives in Pittsburgh’s water crisis. The project is structured around participatory, place based experiences—what we’ve termed WaterWalks—that use art and other forms of creative intervention to advocate for water justice. As the co-founder and artistic director, I've organized four WaterWalks and one community workshop, documented below.
WaterWalks is supported with grants from the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education & Research.
WaterWalks Community Kickoff Luncheon
March 23, 2019
In collaboration with Pittsburgh-based community organizations and advocacy groups, the Kickoff Community Workshop invited local residents, artists, activists, and students to discuss the significance of water justice in Pittsburgh and lay groundwork for future WaterWalks events.
WaterWalk: Wahdo:Gwas Wetland
April 6, 2019
In collaboration with Echoes of the Four Directions, WaterWalk: Wahdo:Gwas Wetland centered Indigenous knowledge within discussions of water-related issues impacting Pittsburgh. Lenora “Lee” Dingus, who is Haudenosaunee (Seneca), shared stories of water and Earl Dingus, Aniyunwiyatsalagi (Cherokee), performed flute in Wahdo:Gwas wetland. The WaterWalk also included a guided wetland walk with Meg Scanlon, naturalist at the Latodami Nature Center.
"With great respect, gratitude and love with our body, mind and spirit, the WaterWalk honored the natural harmony of our planet as we explored Wahdo:Gwas wetland. We learned how all rise from the water and how we are all connected. We celebrated nature with Seneca stories. Cherokee flute provided insight into some of our other brothers’ and sisters’ worlds, such as the four-footed beaver and our winged brothers and sisters the eagles. We all share the natural world and it is our responsibility to be keepers of the Earth."
- Lee and Earl Dingus, Echoes of the Four Directions
WaterWalk: Negley Run Was Here!
May 4, 2019
Negley Run, like most streams in Pittsburgh, is invisible today. WaterWalk: Negley Run Was Here! was an effort to discover the traces of Negley Run and explore ongoing issues of combined sewer overflow (CSO) in the context of environmental racism. Guided by members of the community-based organization Living Waters of Larimer, the WaterWalk centered community-driven green infrastructure as the most just solution to chronic CSO.
WaterWalk: Mapping Pittsburgh's Watersheds
October 12, 2019
Watersheds are sites of interconnection: they link communities, supply our drinking water, and sustain ecosystems. In collaboration with artist Katy DeMent, we assessed the significance of Pittsburgh’s regional watershed system and created a handmade paper watershed map of Pittsburgh. We also engaged with a “Digital Sandbox” created by CivicMapper and 3 Rivers Wet Weather. This interactive augmented reality “sandbox” demonstrated Pittsburgh's unique topography in relation to the regional watershed ecosystem.