By Maria Ortiz
In 2008, Minnesota Campus Compact put out a call for multi-campus initiatives through the Community Service-Learning & Campus-Community Collaboration Initiative Grant program. In response, Winona State University proposed, Our Drinking Fountain, Our Water, a project centered on the theme of water quality, ownership and stewardship. The project combined a variety of arts, sciences and other academic disciplines around community activism with a goal to inspire a thoughtful reverence for water that is instrumental toward building educated and engaged citizenry and policy makers for the stewardship of water. The process was a unique opportunity for experiential education about some of the water concerns that plague the world.
Collaborators included: the City of Winona, Southeast Minnesota Resources Board, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre of Minneapolis (HOBT), and the three higher-education institutions in Winona: Winona State University (WSU), Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (SMU), and Minnesota State College Southeast Technical.
Over 6,000 people (approximately 3,000 students and 3,000 community members) were involved in the project, Individual events offered many opportunities for individuals on any level to gain a relevant education related to water issues. Highlights of the collaboration included:
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre Residencies
HOBT artists spent a week at both WSU and SMU, conducting a full residency with students and community members. Highlights included mask and puppet-making workshops with students and community members; creation and performance of Water Dance pieces involving dance students, faculty, students in a general-education dance class, and community members; creation of masks; and the creation of an advertising campaign by students and faculty in Graphics Design class.
Lake Park Drinking Fountain Renovation
A competition was set up to renovate a public drinking fountain in Winona. Regional artists were invited to submit a design, seven full designs were received. A jury of committee members and community artists decided on three finalists. Those finalists were then showcased on the project Web site and a voting system was set up for community members to vote on their favorite design. Over 800 people voted in the competition. MORE
Water Taste Test
At two events- Earth Day in 2008 and the Frozen River Film Festival in 2009- the City of Winona sponsored at “water taste test” where people were able to compare the taste of city water to three commercial bottle water samples. There events served to increase awareness of the hype around bottled water and also served to surprise many people about how good they thought city water actually tasted.
A Drinking Water booth was set up at two events, Earth Day in 2008 and the Frozen River Film Festival in 2009. As part of the booth, participants were able to taste test Winona’s tap water and three bottled waters. The test results indicated that Winona’s tap water rated higher in taste than all three bottled waters.