Walking Water has existed for 8 years as a pilgrimage, a project and a prayer that centers water as teacher, guide, and sacred source. During this time we have built relationships with peoples, lands and waters from across the world, born witness to places and stories of destruction and grief as well as the beauty, regeneration and healing. We have moved, and continue to move, learning to follow the instruction and orientation of water. We see ourselves as one tributary within a global and intergenerational movement to restore our relations to the waters, lands and peoples.
Our intention is to create a small booklet that is a vessel for the collective wisdom of our diverse community of relations who hold the intelligence and guidance of water as sacred, and who allow that sacred relationship with water to inform their activism and their lives. We are inviting water protectors, activists, stewards, artists and community organizers to contribute their voices, and unique perspectives and understandings of water as an organizing principle. We hope that this collection of reflections can be a multifaceted yet simple offering to remind readers of all that water has to teach us about how to move and show up in times of great change.
Re-centering water as a sovereign living force upon which all of life depends, requires that we dismantle and heal from the many systems of supremacy, domination and colonization that have caused us to commodify waters, lands and peoples in pursuit of power and profit. We recognize and honor the indigenous leadership, particularly here on Turtle Island that has been protecting the waters and the lands from extraction and exploitation of colonization and capitalism for hundreds of years. And while water unites us on a deep level with all of life, reminding us of our deep unity and interconnection, we also recognize that issues of water injustice from Payahuunaduu to Flint disproportionately impact communities of color, and that we must attend to and undo the systemic and historic systems that have harmed waters and peoples alike.
We are asking the questions: How might listening deeply to the teaching and guidance of water support overcoming and healing from systems of oppression, domination and extraction? How might our healing as humans and the healing of waters be intertwined? How does our activism and organizing transform when we embody the guidance and teachings of water?
Our hope is that this booklet can be an exploration of this inquiry in the complexity and multiplicity of voices, lands, experiences and perspectives.
Contributors so far:
Kathy was born and raised in Lone Pine, California and is of Mono, Shoshone and Paiute descent. She is now Elder of the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone tribe. With a MS in Organic Chemistry she serves tirelessly as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer to protect sacred spaces and cultural artifacts from being destroyed by extractive industries. Kathy’s other priority is the youth and is the Indian Child Welfare Act Representative.
Alan Bacock is a member of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley and over the past 20 years has served indigenous communities to protect water, air and land through various roles including as a Water Program Coordinator. In 2019, he was the recipient of the Connor Byestewa Jr. Environmental Award which is bestowed annually among the 148 federally recognized Tribes in the Southwest to recognize the work of individuals who are improving human health and environmental conditions for Tribal communities. Alan was blessed to be able to walk all three phases of Walking Water and is still learning from the rich experience.
Gigi has focused on water since her early years schooling and living nearby creeks and the ocean, engaging in water birth of babies in Russia, releasing dolphins back to the wild, and spending all night in her own water re-birth ceremony. She continues as part of a Beyond Boundaries response team, in prayer and actions with the water, supporting “watering- holes” and connected communities in whatever ways she can – on pilgrimage as a co-founder of Walking Water, and as a steward of 3 Creeks in Payahuunadu.
Desirae Harp is an enrolled member of the Mishewal Wappo tribe. She is a singer/songwriter, cultural bearer, and environmental activist. She is a cofounder for the Mishewal Wappo language revitalization program, a lead coordinator of the run4salmon prayer journey, and a board member for the United pillars of aloha that supports indigenous peoples in creating sustainable communities. Desirae is also core advisor on this book project.
Orland Bishop combines an extensive study of phenomenology, western and indigenous cosmologies with a deep dedication to human rights advocacy and cultural renewal. He is a lineage holder in African Gnosis Traditions and works at the intersection of human consciousness and societal development.
Orland is the Founder and Executive Director of ShadeTree Multicultural Foundation in Los Angeles, California, a unique organization of social architects and entrepreneurs devoted to creating new social forms and collaboratives for systems change.
Michael Preston (pomtahatot tuiimyali)
Michael Preston (pomtahatot tuiimyali) is the Winnemem Wintu cultural preservation officer and works to restore traditional ways. He’s also an artist and dedicated participant in the Winnemem lead Run4salmon where they work to restore the Chinook salmon in the Sacramento and McCloud rivers. Speaking for salmon and water is a Winnemem responsibility.
Felipe works in the development of processes of “ecological reclamation of self” and socio-ecological co-evolution. He was co-founder and co-director, along with Helena Ter Ellen and Francisco de Roux (current president of the Commission for Truth) of the Work that Reconnect Colombia, a project that for 5 years offered empowerment and reconciliation processes for people that had been involved first-hand in the Colombian armed conflict. WTR worked with war-victims, ex-combatants and environmental leaders from some of Colombia’s most complex war-ridden zones. Currently works and lives in Barichara, developing processes of inter-generational territorial stewardship and endogenous development aimed towards the regeneration of the cycles of water. Felipe is father of three young ones and convinced that family life is a key-grounding place for a world woven around the ethics of care.
Artist: S. Shmee, MA
S. Shmee is an intermedia artist, storyteller, and educator whose work is driven by a commitment to creative emergence and the possibilities for transformation, enrichment, and integration. The art of Shmee is an endearing pursuit of pen and ink on watercolor, a treasured creative practice, and a meditation on form and fine lines. Shmee’s handiwork renews with each iteration: from illustration to clothing fabrication and other reformations. Honoring story as a path into relationship, Shmee’s projects connect self-discovery to meaning-making with the web of life. Illustrations for the “Water Book” project with Walking Water conjure inspiration for a journey of deepening into reflective and prayerful pilgrimage.
As a community organization and independent publisher, Loam is passionate about sharing stories from folx who are (re)imagining regenerative activism in the face of climate collapse and social injustice. Through our media branch, we create print publications that explore issues such as disaster preparedness as well as support a podcast, Loam Listen, hosted by artist and food systems advocate Amirio Freeman. Through our consulting branch, we merge our experiences in publishing, distribution, and design to help our partners elevate their creative work. You can find us @loamlove and at loamlove.com
We are all very excited to co-create this booklet and watch it flow through our communities, inspiring us all to restore our relations and be guided by water as a sacred life-giving force. And honoring water protectors and the wisdom they each hold.
The booklet will be a give-away, a gift to those who cross its path. To make this happen we need your support. The budget for 1,000 copies of the booklet will be $15,000. This covers publishing costs, design and stipends for each contributor. We have already been gifted $6,000 and we are now seeking $9,000.
Please join us, and be part of making this happen.
We give thanks for all that flows.
Walking Water team