Tending Our Shared Waters

Expanding the Water Bar concept to reach new communities.


Project Details

City: Minneapolis

Type: Action Grant

Status: Completed

Timeline: 2018-2019

MWMO Funding: $38,340

Partners: Amoke Kubat; Forkpayea Johnson; Freshwater Society; Gustavo Lira; Minnesota Water Stewards; Northside Neighborhood Hub; Water Bar & Public Studio

Staff Contact:

Abby Moore
Training and Community Learning Specialist
Email Abby Moore
View Bio

Collaborating on communicating water topics is something Freshwater Society and Water Bar & Public Studio are accustomed to. The organizations share similar water missions: “To inspire and empower people to value and preserve our freshwater resources” (Freshwater), and “To serve water to build relationships that transform culture” (Water Bar). Through previous collaborations, it became clear that there is both a desire and need for water education and engagement strategies that are social and cultural in their approach, connecting to more diverse community residents and businesses.

An MWMO Action Grant supported the development and pilot of culturally relevant “Water Tender” training and the development of a Water Bar Outreach Kit. The purpose of these tools is to equip volunteers and water professionals with the skills to better engage a wide variety of audiences in meaningful conversations about water through Water Bar’s primary engagement platform: serving water.

“Story Circles” with diverse community groups, facilitated by community partners, illuminated diverse frameworks and approaches to water and culture. Common themes and values emerged, as well as the questions “Who Cares? And How?” A recurring theme throughout the story circles was that there are different ways we care for water, and ways we do or don’t recognize that others also care.

With learnings gleaned from the Story Circles, Water Bar and Freshwater staff developed a Water Tender training framework for water professionals and community volunteers. They implemented training sessions in the winter of 2018-19 and ultimately trained 72 Water Tenders as part of this pilot.

They tested the strategies developed in the Water Tender training by holding five pop-up events, facilitated by cultural leaders from different communities who had participated in Water Tender training. In addition to the pop-ups, Water Bar outreach kits were developed so that Water Tenders can continue to engage people in their own communities around water and continue to gather groups of people from across culture, class, and geography to build community understanding of water and how to work together to protect it.

Contact Abby Moore for more info.