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Water Talks

Empowering Communities to Know, Restore, and Preserve their Waters

April 2022
More details
  • Publisher
    Portal Books
  • Published
    1st April 2022
  • ISBN 9781938685385
  • Language English
  • Pages 228 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

“At the time of writing, I have lived on Planet Earth for eighty-three years. I have seen so much change, and that includes advances in living standards for millions of people on the one hand, and the increasing destruction of the environment on the other. Somehow, we must find a middle path. This is why Betsy wrote this book. All people need to be empowered to know their waters and to take charge of lifesaving decisions.” — Dr. Jane Goodall

The artist, activist, and teacher Betsy Damon has focused on virtually every aspect of water during the past four decades, from the essence of water drops to whole water systems and their connections to life on earth. Over the years, she has borne witness to the decline in water quality around the world as a result of human activities.

In this comprehensive, exciting, and accessible book, Damon writes about our interdependence with water in every aspect of life, discussing many of the technical, social, and ethical issues we face and our individual and communal responsibility for addressing the immanent crises we are facing. As she states, “Ignoring water’s essential role as the connective tissue of all life on Earth is widespread. Unfortunately, the response to each environmental problem tends to be piecemeal—addressing one threat rather than responding with complex solutions that will address the underlying problems.”

The author insists that genuine, lasting solutions require a fundamental understanding and empirical knowledge of water and its role for all life on Earth. She begins with an overview of water as a fundamental human right and how that right has been curtailed through wanton pollution and the commercialization of water supplies. Through personal stories and projects, scientific and technological studies, and encouraging solutions, she takes the reader through many ways in which we can better appreciate and approach existing problems so that “clean water, air, and soil would be available for all life without a price tag.”

As Jane Goodall points out in her foreword, this book “contains inspiring moments and successes of people and communities that have organized around saving a water place. It also provides rays of hope.”

“Of the many things that humans take for granted—the sun, the wind, the soil—water, as Betsy Damon beautifully states in so many ways, is the thread that binds all life systems from sociological to ecological.”

“Betsy Damon shows us that the road to awareness and action always begins with listening and connectivity.”

—Julie Reiss, Editor, Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene (2019)

“As living systems, we are interconnected, reliant on our environment for the air we breathe and the water that sustains us. Damon identifies the barriers to clean water, but simultaneously offers the tools needed to create change and clarifies the key role artists play in the process.”

—Christine Filippone, Ph.D., Terra Smithsonian Senior Fellow, Smithsonian American Art Museum

C O N T E N T S:

Foreword by Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE

My Water Story, Your Water Story
The Arts
Working in Community
Finding Your Water Balance
Single-Purpose Design
Designs for Complexity and Resilience
Conclusion: The Power of Us


Recommended Organizations
Recommended Reading

Betsy Damon

Betsy Damon earned a BA at Skidmore College in 1963 and an MFA from Columbia University in 1966. She has become an internationally recognized artist whose public work and living systems, such as the Living Water Garden, have received widespread acclaim. She directs Keepers of the Waters, a nonprofit focused on ecological planning, advocacy, and education. Damon was a semi-finalist for the Buckminster Fuller Award and a finalist for the Stockholm Water Prize. She has lectured widely in the U.S., Europe and China and has been a visiting artist at countless colleges and universities. Beginning in 1975, Damon’s works have been featured in numerous exhibitions, including “A Memory of Clean Water” (1986–1991); “Feminist, and...” (2012); “Keepers of the Waters: Chengdu & Lhasa” (2018); and “Art & Ecology” (2021). She also founded and directed No Limits for Women Artists (1980–2000). Visit