Ways of Knowing Water
Conveners: Shanai Matteson, Boris Oicherman, Jessica Hellmann
Participants: Aaron Dysart, Jewell Arcoran, Amoke Kubat, Keegan Xavi, Ethan Neerdaels, Mankwe Ndosi, Daniela Sandler, Vicente Diaz, Bill Arnold, Bonnie Keeler, Beth Fisher, Richa Nagar, Amanda Lovelee
If you try to remember you will lose! Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You pour water in a cup it becomes the cup; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or creep or drip or crash! Be water my friend.
-Bruce Lee, in Longstreet (TV Series)
Academic knowledge, embodied knowledge, personal knowledge, collective knowledge, cultural knowledge—what does it mean to really, truly know water? Not to know about it—but know it, learn with it, teach in it? If we could reimagine the ways we learn and teach outside of academic conventions: if we focus on the thing to be learned and not on disciplinary and institutional perspectives on it; If we disregard the hierarchies of knowing and radically diversify approaches to knowledge—what kind of an educational model might we end up with?
In 2019, the Institute on the Environment, Weisman Art Museum, and Water Bar & Public Studio brought together a community of artists, scientists, thinkers, craftsmen, and others to feel, think, learn, read, and taste water. In a series of study sessions, they explored environmental, indigenous, experiential, scientific, poetic, communal, and other aspects of water, connecting the study of water with the environments where that study takes place. In October 2019, the group facilitated Ways of Knowing Water: The Seminar.
What this group learned became the foundation for the One Water Resilience Hub, a network of individuals and institutions working towards clean and safe water for all, and strengthening community resilience to climate change. Local creatives Jewell Arcoren and Aaron Dysart are the inaugural Ways of Knowing Water fellows, and they will be in-residence throughout this academic year. Their goal is to generate new paradigms for collaborative inquiry and public engagement. Related public programming will be announced later on.