Downstream: A Poetics of Water, a research-creation project

What roles do culture and poetics play in supporting a healthy, water-based ecology? This project involves respectfully listening to local, global, and indigenous perspectives on water, and considering what is both spatially and temporally downstream.  We attend to how cultural perspectives shape the ways people view and interact with water, be it as a commons, a resource, a reminder of how all life on the planet is interrelated, an embodiment of spirit–as Dorothy Christian phrases it, and more.

We offered a workshop and public events at Emily Carr University around World Water Day 2012, making spaces for environmentalists, community leaders, elders and academics to dialogue with writers and artists.

Public events included the following:

  • Downstream Art Exhibition: Concourse Gallery, Emily Carr University March 6-14
  • Bodies of Water Dance Performance, March 21, Roundhouse Community Centre – with Seonagh Odhiambo, Asava Dance and Angel Luis Figueroa
  • World Water Night, March 22, Emily Carr University of Art and Design – readings by Lee Maracle and Michael Blackstock, and screening of Samaqan: Water Stories with Director Jeff Bear

Downstream will also lead toward a book and media that poetically explore how the local relates to the global through water. The project’s collaborators include Rita Wong, Dorothy Christian, Peter Cole, Pat O’Riley, Larissa Lai, Karolle Wall, Alex Phillips, Walter K. Lew, and many more (see the Workshop Participants).

Email Downstream at rwong@ecuad.ca . To access the Downstream Project forum (password needed), click here.

With grateful acknowledgment to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Network in Canadian History and Environment Water (NiCHE) History Project, UBC’s Program of Water Governance, and the President’s Research Fund of Emily Carr University for their support of this project.