Project Description

WALKING WITH WATER | November 2017

Walking Water began in 2012 through a vision and has grown over 5 years now into an educational pilgrimage and a social movement. It has brought together the voices of the many peoples of the Eastern Sierra and Los Angeles watersheds, local and global walkers walking together, following the waterways and aqueducts – natural and manmade – from ‘source to end user’ between Mono Lake and Los Angeles.

Walking Water sees Payahuunadu (Owens Valley), given its history, beauty and diversity, as an acupuncture point for awakening awareness in the larger water body of our world. Payahuunadu is the deepest valley in the continental U.S. and has for some 150 years been a place of contention in relation to water. This has included the expulsion of Paiute peoples from their land, the arrival of mining companies, and then the secret acquisitions of land and water by the City of Los Angeles. It is one of many water stories around the world filled with an early peaceful history followed by much grief and strife, characterized by social injustice, power politics, and court actions. It continues most often, as a world of good guys and bad guys, us versus them. It is one of the key places where a more circle based world view, an old and new evolving story of individual and collective care, cooperation and responsibility could make a big difference both locally and globally.

Water Pilgrims

I was moved by the commitment and endurance needed to walk through the heart of the matrix and still maintain a serene perspective, despite challenges. Sleeping out in nature – whether in the desert or forest – is one thing, but in the heart of L.A. is a stark difference … Also, I have never witnessed such a sincere and cohesive, action-oriented alliance between descendants of European ancestry and First Nations peoples. I saw the bridges being built. I learned alot and am eternally grateful.

Maritza Alvarez • Film Maker 2017


Walking Water began in 2012 through a vision and has grown over 5 years now into an educational pilgrimage and a social movement. It has brought together the voices of the many peoples of the Eastern Sierra and Los Angeles watersheds, local and global walkers walking together, following the waterways and aqueducts – natural and manmade – from ‘source to end user’ between Mono Lake and Los Angeles.

Walking Water sees Payahuunadu (Owens Valley), given its history, beauty and diversity, as an acupuncture point for awakening awareness in the larger water body of our world. Payahuunadu is the deepest valley in the continental U.S. and has for some 150 years been a place of contention in relation to water. This has included the expulsion of Paiute peoples from their land, the arrival of mining companies, and then the secret acquisitions of land and water by the City of Los Angeles. It is one of many water stories around the world filled with an early peaceful history followed by much grief and strife, characterized by social injustice, power politics, and court actions. It continues most often, as a world of good guys and bad guys, us versus them. It is one of the key places where a more circle based world view, an old and new evolving story of individual and collective care, cooperation and responsibility could make a big difference both locally and globally.

The vision received by Kate Bunney was very tangible: to walk the lands with its people for and with water. And the vision grew and grew while simultaneously staying simple. One step led us to the next, creating Talking Water events, round tables, ceremonies, and councils with walkers and those we reached out to and met on our route. It was resonant from the start with the dreams and work of Gigi Coyle, and then Alan Bacock and so many others we want to name throughout this report, thanking them and all who are now reading – those who will continue to walk with water, alone and together for years to come.

This year we completed that journey – 550 miles over 3 phases in 3 years – as we walked through Los Angeles, into Long Beach, and released the waters into the ocean. With many hearts, hands, and minds – with different experience, questions and visions around what may be needed, what may be possible. We walked together, from 11 countries/nations, converging on one of the largest urban sites of the U.S. with over 4 million inhabitants. We both received and offered many stories along the way with the intention to listen for what is truly needed, to bear witness, to walk with a prayer and to help awaken ourselves and the wider community, all of the relationships that are between source and end-user.


The walkers this year numbered 27 and came from 11 countries, including both Paiute and Tongva nations. We were fortunate to have 2 walkers from Los Angeles – who could remind us of where we were walking and whose home it is. Only 4 walkers had not walked before with WW and 6 of the walkers had walked the whole journey. Both our kitchen and logistics teams were also able to walk some this year. On completion of the whole walk one walker had walked every step from source to end use (the other 5 of the 6 walkers had taken break days for health, severe blisters, attending of parallel events and writing of blogs!).

And of course, nobody ‘just’ walks. Our intention was and is to build and nourish community with the walkers group and with all we meet. Most of us held a myriad of responsibilities especially the core lead team, the logistics team and the carrier group who helped keep the work and dream alive throughout the years.

This year, unlike other years, we asked each walker to commit to the two full walking weeks since we knew the importance of building a strong learning community as we moved through Los Angeles. With appreciation for the commitment that takes, we held a ‘no-exception’ rule and in the end offered some flexibility with a few seeming essential situations. Some could only commit at the last minute for different reasons including those leaving the fires in Northern California to join the walk, not knowing if their homes and friends would be safe. Each year we have been accompanied by the fires as we have with water, each year witnessing the power of regeneration in fire and also the destruction it can too often cause through human carelessness or poorly understood managed landscapes.


The Core Team – Gigi, Alan and Kate – were this year joined by Orland Bishop, Founder and Director of ShadeTree Multicultural Foundation. Originally from Guyana “the Land of Many Waters,” now a longtime resident, mentor and priest in LA, he was an essential complement to our team. As we have now completed this 3 year journey, we will give thanks for and slowly let go of the core team and explore together with a wider group who is meant to be the team for the next stages of Walking Water.


Krystyna Jurzykowski, Laura Whitney, Geoff Dalglish, and Benjamin von Mendelssohn were also in great form – supporting and holding in ways often invisible but so essential not only on the walk but through the year. A special thanks to Krystyna who not only walked the three years but walked in many ways with us and others in the months in between. Many thanks also to Justine Epstein, Tara Milliken and Sarah Nutting for their care and heart support, their admin help, the singing us alive each day along the route and the showing up whenever needed.


Our guest walkers from other parts of the world brought experience and inspiration such a long distance. Of course, all of our walkers, local and global, each made the difference and yet, due to the added stretch to travel into a different land and culture, we want to highlight those who did such. Each walker offered such an important part of the water story informing all whom we met, confirming the importance of our shared focus on water. We especially want to acknowledge Rajendra Singh who travelled from India to be with us each year. Rajendra has devoted his life to bringing not only awareness of water issues to the masses, but has also literally brought water to villages by reestablishing ancient water practices. We also want to highlight Marcela Olivera for contributing her time and energy over these past years and showing up as participant, the leader that she is and a translator of message with heart.


Our relationship with the Paiute Tribes in Payahuunadu has been a significant part of Walking Water, since our first days of asking permission to walk. With Alan Bacock joining year two as 1/3 of the Core Team, we have been able to form an alliance that has had direct impact on the Tribes relations with LADWP and others. Important support and participation at different events this year continued with members from the Big Pine, Bishop and Lone Pine Paiute tribes – in particular, Kathy Bancroft, Monty Bengochia, Harry Williams, Paul Huette, Teri Red Owl, Rosanna Marrujo and Charlotte Lange (Kutzedika). Seeing your faces whenever and each time you arrived made our circle stronger and more whole. And many thanks to the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission for your contribution in transportation over the 3 years and showing up this year with a special feast … the best pot luck ever.

In the preparation time for LA, we were supported by various community and tribal members there such as Angela Mooney D’Arcy (Director, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples) and Marcos Trinidad (Audubon Debs Park) who served as bridges, introducing us to some leaders of the Tongva, Tataviam and Chumash tribes. Through calls and letters, we communicated our respect for the land, our request to walk, our intention and prayer and were warmly welcomed by many. We wish we would have been able to meet in person with more of the Tongva and Tataviam before the walk began, yet living far from LA did not allow for such. We are grateful for the connections that did happen as we met and will continue to explore building on these relations in the future.

As with each year, we did not set out to ‘get’ media attention but rather focused on the simplicity of Pilgrimage and responded to what came. Geoff Dalglish, Julia Maryanska, Laura Whitney and Krystyna Jurzykowski, along with Kate and Gigi, as our media team, did this with grace, sensitivity and expertise. Walking Water has been about a prayer and an action rather than a high-profile media event and three years later we have beautiful documentation of the walk in the form of images, video footage and blogs that may play a more meaningful role in the future. This year as well as our faithful blogs and Facebook shares, we were accompanied by an independent film maker, Maritza Alvarez, who skillfully blended in and really became witness to the journey.


Our logistics team is the very physical manifestation of one beautiful answer of how to be in service in this world. This year the team was 5 strong – Janka Striffl er, Silvia Belgardt, Lia Bentley, Sam DeBoskey and Ben Holgate. Their day began at 6am, and sometimes earlier, making breakfast and coffee and often continued until late into the night, and a couple of times lasted throughout the night when extra vigilance was needed. A huge thanks to each of the team in the many ways they each and together as a solid team served the vision. Many thanks to Rachel Hope and Veronica Wilson for all the support they gave in so many ways.


Setting the route and finding the places we could camp each night within the city was one of the biggest challenges. Moving in a city brings up many issues about access to space. Together with support from Andy Lipkis we were introduced to LA City Parks and Recreation who generously allowed us to camp in the city parks. The City of South Gate, City of Maywood, LA County and City of Long Beach all quickly joined opening us to the opportunity to sleep ‘outside’ each night. This was an unprecedented decision that we were extremely grateful for along with the time given by LA City Parks to comply with permit conditions. Special appreciation to Kate for coordinating so much of this.

At each place we stayed, we made significant, even though short relations and continued our way of offering a water blessing and prayer. We had the opportunity to experience and bear witness to what is so often an ‘invisible’ and ‘unwanted’ part of urban life – the homeless community.

There are roughly 58,000 homeless people in LA County, 43,000 of which are without shelter (LA Homeless Services Authority, 2017). We came to understand and appreciate that we were sleeping in other people’s homes and needed to be aware of the judgments about those who choose or are forced to live in this way. We became even more aware of the suffering for so many in one of the richest nations in the world. Often the ways we try to protect ourselves through ‘security’ ignores the deeper ways of protection in contact and connection with our surroundings. Our safety was primarily embedded in our community intention, agreements and prayer. While it was often recommended for us to have security guards, we chose it only once.


Apart from walking, our other main activity was to practice the way of deep listening and sharing truth with heart in circle. Each day we would sit and share some about what we had witnessed, bringing our questions and concerns, exploring together often different perspectives and feelings. The power of listening to and sharing story and prayer is tangible in such circles where we experience another’s way of being, seeing and doing.

While listening we come to a larger truth than any one person has – a more whole picture. Finding some common ground between us often arises through speaking and having similar questions, or listening to another’s pain, anger or joy and realizing our own. Ultimately, we may come to better respect uniqueness, and learn from each other while dissolving a kind of ‘otherness’ and holding on to the wounds and judgements that can lead to isolation, separation, despair and even violence as we witness every day in our world.

Being in dialogue, whether in circle or in Talking Water events, is a vital element of Walking Water – to respond to what we hear, witness and experience, both individually and as a moving community. Here we attempt to offer a glimpse, a taste, of some themes we walked with this year.


By Orland Bishop

Sanctuary begins at the point of time when an individual or group of people acknowledges that “we are here.” To be “here” is to enter into relationship with what is held by the Spirit of the Place and how our lives will be changed by being present to what will emerge from this contact. Every place welcomes, it is the nature of the Earth to invite belonging. Human cultures can continue this process through our various traditions of hospitality and ceremonies of welcoming.

The City of Los Angeles, also called the City of Angels, welcomed us. It opened itself to us as we opened our hearts to the capacity of the land to welcome ceremony and dreams. Above and beyond the cultural complexities of the city, the ceremonial ground was acknowledged whenever we poured water to ask permission to walk, to rest, to meet each other anew and to share meals and other gifts from community. We were hosted with peace in each park we rested and dreamed each night. Every neighborhood was a door into the awakened sense of the power of how water shapes our relationships to each other and the ways it inspires beauty. Each neighborhood revealed its use and need for water on every level that creates an ecology for communal living. Our walkers received inspiration from many residents who asked why we are walking. The answers to this question added to the making of sanctuary as each answer brought us deeper into our intention for the pilgrimage and the question we must ask each day wherever we find ourselves, why are we here?


Some feelings of imprisonment or incarceration have been with us since year one when we first came into contact with the LA Aqueduct – actually 2 pipes, the original pipe measures 12 ft. in diameter and runs 418 miles from the Mono Basin down to the Cascades, Sylmar. We have witnessed the place where the water is forced into the Aqueduct and we have been present in prayer at the place where the water re-emerges. It moves along the landscape as a constant tension between the human-made and nature created – moving between the visible and invisible. Each year as we have walked next to this huge pipe, sometimes seeking shade from the extreme heat, sometimes singing and praying with the waters we cannot see, we have been confronted with many questions.

Throughout our journey in LA we carried the constant inquiry of what it is to live in a society with the racial, social and environmental injustices and how they are all entwined. Roughly 2.5 million people are incarcerated in

the US – 40% of that population are black, 19% Hispanic and 39% White (Prison Policy Initiative 2014). The Bureau of Justice Statistics state that Indigenous people are incarcerated at a rate 38% higher than national average.

As we walked through some of the lower income areas of the city, we often heard how those areas are targeted to conserve water and reduce usage. There seems to be a certain mentality that suggests those able to pay fines for the overuse/waste of water are allowed to do so. Those who cannot afford to overuse are then penalized and targeted in different ways. It works within the paradigm that has made water a commodity, to be profited from.

We also witnessed in wealthier sections of town, the ‘monuments’ to William Mulholland – both in the form of large public fountains and in the lush private gardens and swimming pools. This was a constant challenge to all the walkers and in particular the Paiute and those local to LA.

We walked and talked and sat in long silences with such thoughts and feelings. Everyone we met we asked for their perspective; when they shared their struggles we were many times overwhelmed and impressed with their courage, their ingenuity and stamina. We asked if we could hold them, their dreams and walk with their prayers as well. This felt like an honor.

Over the last 3 years we have often adopted the term ‘political prayer’ to describe our intention and practice – prayer as in walking with a compassionate heart and a mindful consciousness, political as in a global, social, racial awareness. As we walked through LA this year we were more challenged and inspired to practice this and expand the definition of activism to include this. In the current political climate there is an opportunity to challenge and disrupt through bearing witness, questioning, showing up in circle, in song, in prayer. 


As we walked with these questions we met with different groups and people who have dedicated their lives to healing and sacred activism along with others who are instrumental in the ways of water management in California.

Welcome Walkers Evening: We were welcomed to Sylmar our first evening by Latino community leaders Luis Rodriguez and his son Romero. Together with others in their extended family they create sanctuary through the community center Tia Chuchas, offering learning, healing and connection through creativity and ceremony. Luis works continuously now for many years to be part of the healing of those in prison through a writing course. He introduced us to The Young Warriors, a group from the center led by mentor Mayra. They came and both nourished and inspired us with their café food and their life dreams to become nutritionists, leaders, and educators.

Day One, Opening Ceremony: This year we were able, through special permission from LADWP, to hold the Opening ceremony right at the Cascades – where the water finally comes out of the pipe. Joined and gifted by the participation of Kathy Bancroft and Charlotte Lange, along with visiting founder and key members of the Tamera community, we together blessed the waters and the journey we were about to undertake. Alan Bacock invited James Yanotta (Manager of LA Aqueduct, LADWP) to join him in a water blessing and many other prayers and waters from all over the world were added to the vessel we have carried from the source. Afterwords we held an impromptu sharing with James Yanotta who spoke openly and passionately with Kate and Andy Lipkis about the current situation for the Aqueduct.

Day Three: Andy Lipkis, Founder of TreePeople, returned and offered a very inspiring take on the way water is managed and treated through the city and the very tangible solutions that could ultimately give LA roughly 70% of its water locally.

Day Four: We showed the movie “Paya” at TreePeople, sharing the challenging story of the water in Payahuunadu together with Paiute Elders Kathy Bancroft, Harry Williams and Kudzetika Elder Charlotte Lange, and Paiute youth leader Kris Hohag who offered –live !- the original song from the movie.

Day Five: We co-hosted a day long gathering together with TreePeople with the title ‘Watershed: A Time for a New Story of Community Resilience and Responsibility’.

Roundtables included Elders and members of the Paiute tribe Kathy Bancroft, Harry Williams and Alan Bacock, Andy Lipkis, Liz Crosson (Water Policy Advisor to LA Mayor Garcetti), Felicia Marcus (Chair, California State Water Resources Control Board), Kammi Foote (Owens Valley Committee), Marty Adams (Chief Operating Offi cer, LADWP) and David Nahai (Former General Manager, LADWP). Our intention was to create an opportunity for some elected offi cials to come together and be with Tribal and Community members of the Owens Valley in a different way than they normally meet. This for example was highlighted with a beginning of honoring the Indigenous Elders in the room and inviting their song and prayer and ending the day with a chance for all to be heard.

While the day did bring some important sharing and listening from all those present, our original picture of all listening to each other was thwarted by offi cials only being able to stay for their time speaking. They all missed the afternoon where there was a council and a productive harvest. For our part, there were a number of places where things could have been smoother as co-hosts – including the ways we briefed and prepared all the participants, how some changes were made at the 11th hour and how some of us and the invitees had different pressures and expectations.

Day Seven: We co-organized an Art in the Sky event at Sotomayer Learning Academy with Dan Dancer; 450 kids joined by the walkers and later some Paiute families, created a giant kingfisher with a message for clean waterways for source to end use for all of life. (Vimeo: 239735681)

Day Eight: We co- created with Marcos Trinidad, Audubon Debs Park, a pot luck supper for walkers and guests, followed by a sharing between Tongva/Paiute Elders and Youth. Throughout Walking Water, it has been important to not only acknowledge the indigenous peoples of the land, but also to do proper protocol by requesting permission to walk through their lands. The Tongva representatives provided a gift of sage to each of the walkers to show their blessings for the journey and beautiful handmade necklaces to the Paiute present. The Paiute representatives offered a gift of water from Payahuunadu to freely share what had been forcefully taken from their homeland to feed the population of Los Angeles. The children from Payahuunadu danced for all.

Day Nine: We engaged in an inspirational tour and exchange with Milli Macen-Moore of the Metabolic Studio. The Metabolic Studio, led by artist Lauren Bon, is based in LA and also has projects in Payahuunadu focused on transforming resources into energy, actions, and objects that nurture life. Milli joined us for the walk the next day to LADWP and together we will continue to listen for ways to collaborate.

Day Ten: A key day of visiting the LADWP Headquarters and sitting in song and prayer by the water …little talk. Later in the day however, Steven Cole, Manager of Water Distribution for LADWP shared passionately amidst the din of city construction noise in the park where we were to sleep. We learned about the water distribution infrastructure responsible for delivering safe drinking water to the millions of people living in LA and asked more questions. Steven began to share about the good projects being done in the Owens Valley and Alan thankfully pointed out that all of the LADWP efforts of mitigation in the valley were promised but many only delivered after court pressure had been applied.

Day Eleven: We had a creative and powerful evening with the Street Poets who channel their challenging life journeys, the pain and the joy, into and through poetry and words that open not only their hearts and minds but those of all who hear them including all of us walkers.

Day Twelve: We welcomed social justice leaders Angela Mooney D’Arcy (Director, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples) and Kruti Parekh (a coach and consultant currently with the Youth Justice Coalition) and learned some about their work and activism, particularly the need for strategic reformation – finding the forms that offer strategic response to the current environment.

Day Thirteen: Three walkers: Rajendra Singh (India), Marcela Olivera (Bolivia), Philip Munyasia (Kenya) offered a global perspective, each of their stories in different ways pointing out how many years of dedication and commitment is involved for real change to happen.

Day Fourteen: Our Closing Ceremony was held where the LA river meets the ocean and we were beautifully welcomed in song by the Golden Bridge Community Choir. There we released the waters we had carried throughout our walk and the staff that had taken every step. Afterwards we held our last Talking Water at the local community center, where we gathered perspectives from both our Paiute partners as well as the walkers…sharing with some local friends and allies, organizational leaders, DWP representative Milad Taghavi and sponsors. It was a good day!


By Sarah Nutting

Finding river and losing river, and like last year and the year before, walking for days without seeing water, and yet the river had not yet run dry, and the vitality of intention of this pilgrimage continued… song continued to carry us. Year Three… our own voices united in song. Our songs carried us from the Cascades, to the Beverly Hilltops of TreePeople for a connective couple of days weaving in the “old stories” with the “new stories, inviting our friends to join the widening of our circle with their songs of Payahuunadu. In Woodley Park we learnt our anthem for this year, a song in four-part harmony written by Karisha Longaker of MaMuse called “Oh River.” That was the song that we gifted to our friends after an evening of reconciliation and youth council at the Audubon Center at Debs Park and to our final moments in Long Beach at our closing ceremony and Talking Water, and so many places along the way. We learnt the songs of others and sang them as salve to sooth our hearts on the steps of DWP headquarters, to understand the waters from near and far, to sing the call for change. This journey began with a River and ended with a Sea, and through all the in-betweens we stayed connected through the power of Song. 

Some Challenges we Faced

  • Simply walking through LA… Many days of walking on concrete in over 100 degree weather. Sleeping outside in the center of a city.

  • Co-Creating Cross-Cultural Community in a short time… Integration of walkers that came late missing the prep days and had less understanding of the community process or even a chance to know the other walkers. Less time than years past for debriefs from events and learning together what we were going to do or what had just happened.

  • Finding the way of Compassion… Through interactions with each other, with all those we met, with the homeless people throughout LA Parks, where permits like ours are not granted, where bathrooms are mostly locked, where some of the 58,000 homeless people in LA are seeking refuge.

  • Finding ways to communicate with the Powers that be… Walking into the world memorializing Mulholland and LADWP with no mention of education around Payahuunadu or especially the tribes and the many sacrifices in the water source place. Walking into a world where the people where the water comes from are hardly known, much less respected or heard when decisions are made.

Some Highlights we Embraced

  • Receiving a LADWP permit to hold the Opening Ceremony at the Cascades

  • Being gifted walking staffs at the Opening by Charlotte Lange and Kathy Bancroft,

  • Being honored at the Tataviam Indigenous Day celebrations,

  • Having LADWP and other water officials join at different talking water opportunities,

  • Receiving local foods and some significant feasts from community cafes and caterers along the way… “With Love” Cafe, Young Warriors, Guayaba Kitchen, Elderberries Cafe, LA Kitchen, LADWP, OVIWC, Cafe Gratitude, Dave’s Gourmet Korean,

  • The Ice Cream vans that seemed to be following us!   Good relations with the Porta loo company,

  • The way of being at the LADWP Headquarters – sitting, singing, and praying by the water,

  • All the Talking Water events – hearing the stories of each invitee, Having some stellar community day walkers show up,

  • So many Indigenous peoples coming all the way from the valley in support and contributing in meaningful ways to each event.


1.  Changing Relations
The Big Pine Paiute Tribe has been very supportive of Walking Water and has seen its relationship with LADWP strengthen throughout the journey. During this year as the walk was progressing, tribal leaders from both the Big Pine and Bishop Tribes met with Commissioners from LADWP at the Bishop Tribal Chambers to discuss a project being initiated by LADWP. This was a historic moment in time and it was felt that a stronger relationship was being developed. Unfortunately, the relationship has had a major bump in the road since the meeting, but it was the start of something new, so time will tell if things can be repaired.
In addition, the Big Pine Tribe has learned that the Mayor of Los Angeles will be placing a tribal liaison in his office in order to have strengthened relations with the Tribes.

2.  Gifts Exchanged
The exchange and blessings received on Indigenous Peoples Day at the start of the walk gave the walkers a gift of energy that sustained us throughout the journey. Perhaps the most significant gift shared was the gift of water offered by the Paiute to the Representatives of the Tongva peoples in a beautiful exchange at the Audubon Center Debs Park. This prayer-and-action is what Walking Water is in large part about… contributing to shifting a world view from “taking” (which are the words of Mulholland and so many others) to one of gifting and sharing.

Walking Water in many ways might be seen in the philanthropic world as an onsite visit, where people with resources look deeply at what is needed and what might serve. Over 550 miles through a watershed, along a pipeline – listening, bearing witness, learning, asking what might serve in the restoring of relations. For three years close to 30 people walked, from many different backgrounds, places and nations, offering different resources along the way. Gifts exchanged included story, song, experience in healing conflict, water activism, nature education, social-profit work and more… The walk inspired the giving and receiving of gifts all along the route and now we trust will inspire more.

In its conclusion, Walking Water is being gifted a flow fund of $20k and the core team, with suggestions from walkers as well, will pay forward gifts to selected local and global individuals working on related projects . This RockRiver Flow Fund, initiated by four of the walkers, is meant to contribute to the flow of good relations and more gifts ensuing, inspired by the care for water. The flowing of water, gifts, ideas, visions, and actions, we pray will continue in the spirit of reciprocity for all involved.

3.  Vision Continues
Walking Water is now a name, vision and movement known not only in this Valley but in many places. It is a mindfulness bell, catalyzing people to wake up and learn where their water comes from. Once that story of source to end use is known, the sharing of it in many more places and ways will continue to inspire, as it has already. We have witnessed more people and projects be strengthened in their work, more join in their communities and participate in some ways towards the care and protection of water – and particularly those people and places without. We have catalyzed some cross pollinations, collaborations and new relations where a sharing of experience and resources we trust will positively affect those involved, the water we share and all of our relations for the years to come.

4.  New Ambassadors
The Walkers from different places and backgrounds are now far more educated and empowered to be leaders in their own communities. With water as a focus, we believe the chance of restoring relations and building new healthy alliances is far greater. We trust that this experience has served in such ways and will continue to be revealed through the actions and prayers of many continuing in the years to come.


By Siri Gunnarson

Each year people and organizations have dedicated events in their watersheds to healing our relations with water – from the Big Pine Paiute Tribe dedicating their annual Fandango Festival to ‘Water is Life’, to a group in Athens walking the path of the ancient river Eridanos, still flowing under the modern city. Parallel to our walk in LA, in New York, Radical Joy ‘Raised a Glass to the Catskills’, in Czechia, ‘Natural Spirit’ held a five day pilgrimage ‘To the Waters’, in Salt Spring Island, the local Dance Temple joined us with ‘Dancing Water’, Wildflower Open Classroom went on a day long pilgrimage in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed… and many more including events in Tamera Peace Research Center in Portugal, Rivers Bend Retreat Center on the Navarro River, Friends of the Brazos River in Texas, Women Wage Peace in Israel Palestine, and friends in the Great Lakes region and Hawaii holding daily rituals. We are honored to be joined by these projects, communities and individuals around the world.


  • There will be exceptions to any and every plan and we must stay with our choices and make it good… knowing if we do… bumps in the road can lead to a different yet more whole outcome.
  • Partnerships and trust take time to build and continuing to show up continues to be the key.
  • True security lies in relationships far more than rules, money, position or power.
  • As challenges arise in community, a way through is to be in service – to be inspired & committed to a bigger purpose than our own individual dream.
  • Connection and care for water is big enough to bring us all together. To realize that how we treat water is similar to how we treat ourselves & each other. Our walk confirmed the need to fully focus on and embrace those ways and actions that are supportive of all of life.

Next Steps

  • Many of the ripples of this journey will not be apparent for quite some time and we are listening for where to be and what is ours to do. And still, some of the next steps are:

  • Follow up to a letter that has recently been delivered to LADWP requesting the inclusion of the Paiute Tribes in the decision-making process of LA’s water management.

  • A midwife team has been formed to explore next steps for Walking Water.

  • A booklet is to be created gathering some of the poems, words, and images of the walkers.

  • Presentations and sharing of the Walking Water story will be in February at the Bishop Tribe Cultural Center and the Lone Pine Center. Others we will look to do, co create and consider as invited.

  • There is a dream to do another Sky Art in Payahuunadu with children and link to the kingfisher in LA… maybe spring 2018.

  • A walk in South Africa is being planned by Geoff Dalglish and others and WW will see how we might be connected/involved. More USA and global walks are being envisioned.

  • The footage that was taken each year will be collected and reviewed, and subject to funding and quality, will be made into a WW film.

  • Partnership has been an integral part of the way we have gradually formed Walking Water as it is only through inclusive partnership and collaboration that we can truly explore new ways of water management where ‘we all have enough’. There is no one leader, one organization, one idea, or one vision that we know will solve our crises, the challenges of our times. Instead we really are being asked more than ever to think globally and locally, to act where we are called to serve, to live the truth of our interdependence, to listen together, to envision together, to create together and move together.


This year we were so fortunate to receive a number of gifts that allowed us to support more international and indigenous walkers to participate, to have a film maker document the journey as well as have a van that worked! We could also support some local community kitchens.
We received many gifts of food, teas, coffee and other products and equipment. We had an outpouring of people gifting their time and skills to ensure that Walking Water had what was needed and for the first time after many years of organizing, Kate was able to receive a salary and Gigi and a number of others on our team have their expenses covered. While it’s difficult to place monetary value on the gifts in kind and peoples time we would estimate the gifts in kind of food and equipment would come to a $10,000 value and volunteer admin time worth over $50,000.

So much abundance of water and resources to support us to be walking with the water.

Our income: $140,353.95
Our expenses: $135,761.72

Our income comprised of: $95,000 from 10 Foundations/Funds, $10,000 from 8 walkers and $35,353.95 from 50 individuals.

We have a surplus of $4,592.23 and the core team together with the midwife team will look at how that can be paid forward. A detailed budget is available on request.
After all the grants came in, we also are blessed to have a surplus of $19,609.34 through our fiscal sponsor WILD which has accrued over the last four years. We are looking carefully at how we direct that money together with the teams and those funders and how that may support the on-going work of Walking Water. As this financial year is now complete we will no longer have the services of the WILD Foundation as our fiscal sponsor.

Many thanks to the WILD team for their on-going support of the last 5 years.


Our journey has been possible because of the allies we have made, the shared vision and values we have found, the people we have met working within foundations, and a variety of environmental and educational organizations and communities along with individual and some select corporate sponsors who care.


Beyond Boundaries, Big Pine Paiute Tribe, Bishop Paiute Tribe, Eastern California Water Association, Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, Owens Valley Indian Water Commission, Owens Valley Committee, School of Lost Borders, The Biosphere Foundation, The Grace Foundation, The Ojai Foundation, The Wild Foundation, TreePeople, Weaving Earth


Alan Bacock, Andy & Kate Lipkis Ben Holgate, Bonnie Tamblyn and the Band Caleb Buchbinder, Daniel Evaeus Geoff Dalglish Gigi Coyle Janka Striffl er Julia Maryanska Justine Epstein, Karisha Longaker Kathy Bancroft Kruti Parekh, Lia Bentley, Maggie Wheeler & Golden Bridge Community Choir, Marcela Olivera Orland Bishop Rachel Hope, Sam DeBoskey Sarah Nutting Silvia Belgardt Siri Gunnarson Sonya Stewart Tara Milliken Veronica Wilson Win Phelps


Andrew Beath Anna Minsky Arlene Krebs Ben Holgate Benjamin Kahrl, Benjamin von Mendelssohn Bruce McNally, Carlin Quinn Cassandra Curley, Claude Pepin and Lise Sparrow Deborah King, Diane Saturnino Elaine Rene-Weissman Ethan Hirsch Tauber Genia Gay Austin Ginny McGinn, Hank Wadsworth Harriet Platts Helen Feldman Irma Fathke Isabel Izabou James Daukas Jane Packard Jenny Ladd Jessica Upchurch Jim Epstein Jiordi Rosales John Burt, John Malloy Justine Epstein Karen Lucas Kastor Stein, Katrin Lueth Krystyna Jurzykowski Laura Whitney Lauren Embrey, Lia Bentley Malama MacNeil Marc Valens Margaret Owens Mark Finser Mark Headley Mary Horan Melissa Salmon Meredith Foster, Michael and Lesley Bunney Peter Cameron, Rachel Hope Richard Burg Robert Scheff, Roger and Margot Milliken Sam DeBoskey, Sarah Epstein Sarah Nutting Scott Davidson, Stewart and Lucy Bunney Tara Milliken, Thomas Kemper/Dolphin Blue Thomas Mitchell, Trea Yip, Win Phelps


Ananda Fund Avalon Trust Earthways LUSH Cosmetics, Metabolic Studio Namaste Foundation Rotary Club Bishop RSF/Angel Fund Seahorse Fund, Tamera Peace Community The Grace Foundation, Toiyabe Indian Health Project


Bhakti  Big Agnes, Café Gratitude CEC, Chicobag, City of Maywood City of Southgate Daiya, Dwayne’s Pharmacy Farmhouse Culture Guayaba Kitchen Guayaki, Hummingbird Wholesale Just, Kmart, LA City Parks and Recreation LA Kitchen, Looney Bean Bishop Lotus Foods, Manor Market Mono Market Mrs. Meyers, New Roads School Numi Tea, Nutiva Patagonia, Sierra Elevation, Lone Pine Sonoma Brinery, Taylor Maid Teechia Teechino, Theo Chocolate Wild Planet Wildbrine,William S. Hart Park, With Love LA, Wofchuck Honey

“Service is an impulse within every human being that enables us to recognize our collective duty toward each other and to the world. It is a collective calling. It is the deepest form of friendship, a devotion to the archetypal impulse of humanity. It is reciprocal. By living for each other we create ourselves… we are called to raise the world and each other. Service is about providing the environment for the miraculous and living into it. We don’t know how we will do the impossible. But we do a part and somehow the rest happens. The co-creative hand of the spirit works in unison with our own efforts. The service we do continues in our sleep when the beings that work on preserving and transforming life take hold of our efforts, our impulses and weave them into world destiny.”

Orland Bishop excerpt from The Seventh Shrine.


Walking Water thrives from an abundant community of volunteers, donors, contributors and supporters. If you feel inspired to contribute what you can be it time, skills, equipment and/or money then please contact us or go direct to our donate page.