AUSTIN, Minn. — Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 — Cedar River Watershed will be one of eight host sites for the recently announced 2018–2019 statewide tour of the We Are Water MN.
Cedar River Watershed District has led the local effort to bring We Are Water MN to Austin in its next round, with the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center agreeing to partner on the project and host the exhibit in 2019 from April 28 to June 16. Half of the nature center’s classroom space in its new Interpretive Center will be devoted during that period to the “We Are Water” exhibit featuring local and state water-related displays.
Minnesota Humanities Center; Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; and their statewide partners just announced the We Are Water MN exhibit will continue in 2018.
Various other spinoff events will be pursued locally for the Cedar River hosting period of We Are Water MN, said Tim Ruzek, CRWD’s outreach coordinator.
“We’re very grateful for our state partners’ interest in the Cedar River State Water Trail and bringing their highly educational and powerful exhibit to Austin,” Ruzek said. “Partnering with the nature center staff to host the exhibit in their beautiful, new facility will make for an outstanding attraction for all ages.”
Ruzek and James Fett, CRWD’s watershed technician, took part in a We Are Water MN training in October at the Humanities Center in St. Paul. They have been working with the nature center’s director Luke Reese and teacher/naturalist Maria Anderson, and will connect with other local partners.
We Are Water MN is a partnership of the Humanities Center, MPCA, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. More information about We Are Water MN and host site community events can be found at mnhum.org/water.
Originally developed as a locally focused companion piece to the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) Water/Ways exhibit, We Are Water MN is a traveling exhibit focused on the relationships between people and water — how water connects story, history, faith, ethics, the arts and science.
During 13 months in 2018 and 2019, the exhibit will visit eight Minnesota communities, including Minneapolis, Bemidji, Crookston, Cloquet, Austin, Northfield, Grand Rapids and Onamia.
“We are honored to be given the opportunity to continue We Are Water MN and bring the exhibit to eight more communities in Minnesota,” said David O’Fallon, Minnesota Humanities Center President & CEO. “Minnesota has a unique relationship to water, and this exhibit gives all Minnesotans the opportunity to deeply engage — through the sciences AND the humanities — with what water means to them and what the future of water is in our state. We look forward to working with our statewide partners to continue this important dialogue.”
The Humanities Center’s traveling exhibition programming is focused on cultivating partnerships and being in communities authentically, respectfully and in a way that speaks to the multiplicity of experiences in the community. We Are Water MN does this in three ways; 1.) By exploring the connections between the humanities and water through a hands-on exhibit. 2.) By building and supporting cross-disciplinary partnerships of people who protect and affect water. 3.) By helping host communities design public events that build participants’ relationships with water.
We Are Water MN uses an interactive story collecting strategy that focuses on individuals’ relationships with, and responsibilities to, water. The exhibit includes stories from people reflecting on the meaning and experience of water in Minnesota, stories from local people from each host site community and space for visitors to add their own stories and images. We Are Water MN also raises awareness about the quantity and quality of Minnesota’s water, connecting exhibit-goers to active water solutions.
Through the We Are Water MN traveling exhibit, each host community will tell its local water stories and envision the future of water in Minnesota. Local events may include activities like: contests, workshops, tours, speakers, theater, music or film events, school partnerships, museum displays, outdoor activities, festivals and more.
“Through my work on the project, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about water quality from my MPCA colleagues, listen to interviews of people from the tour sites and collect images of the special places they describe,” says MPCA Outreach & Education Coordinator, Britt Gangeness. “Now I don’t just think of regional water quality trends. I think of people — THESE people — and I smile, because there are an awful lot of people out there who care about all the little plants, and animals, and flow rates, and smell of the mud, and the places where loons nest (to name a few of the many things they care about). They treasure the special events in their lives that happened in and around the water. This deep connection is what will make a difference for water quality in Minnesota.”
Cedar River Watershed District
In 2007, state and local officials formed the Cedar River Watershed District in response to the Cedar River Watershed’s worst-known floods in 2000 and 2004. CRWD’s top priorities are aimed at reducing flooding and improving water quality in the Cedar River Watershed.
About the Minnesota Humanities Center
Founded in 1971, the Minnesota Humanities Center is a statewide nonprofit organization and full service event center located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Humanities Center offers a new way to think about our future, grounded in the humanities, and collaborates with organizations and individuals to develop programs that facilitate and frame conversations and strengthen connections. The Humanities Center works to bring into public life the authentic voices of all people, especially those that have been absent or marginalized. The Humanities Center is a resource for the state of Minnesota and is affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities.