‘We Are Water MN’ heading to Austin; Exhibit focuses on connections of people and water

Published 7:38 am Friday, January 5, 2018

The Cedar River Watershed District will be one of eight host sites for the 2018-2019 statewide tour of the “We Are Water MN.” Austin will host the tour in 2019.

The CRWD has led the local effort to bring “We Are Water MN” to Austin, with the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center agreeing to partner on the project. The project will be on display April 28 to June 16, 2019. Half of the nature center’s classroom space in its new Interpretive Center will be devoted to the exhibit featuring local and state water-related displays.

Various spinoff events will be pursued locally for the exhibit, 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 nature center 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 and 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.”

“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.

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.