Open Rivers: Rethinking Water, Place, and Community
From the introduction to Issue Eighteen: Spring 2021
By Laurie Moberg, Managing Editor of Open Rivers
On local and global scales, concerns about our water systems emerge from many directions. We read stories of contaminants compromising hydrologies and water ecologies, of farm runoff in the Midwest creating an expansive hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. We view shocking images of the effects of a decades-long drought diminishing the flow of the Colorado River. Hazardous drinking water conditions and deteriorating infrastructures like those in Flint, Michigan inspire distrust in resource management methods and make evident how inequalities and injustices are part of everyday entanglements with water. The present conditions of water—and our relationships to it—provoke an endless set of questions about what our future with water may look like.
This issue approaches the question of the future of water from a different angle by exploring practices that move us toward desirable futures with water. Rather than focusing on the challenges of amount or quality of water, we asked authors to be visionary, to imagine the future they want with water and the possibilities of making it a reality. Specifically, we offered a single organizing question for the issue: What knowledges, practices, and perspectives do we need in order to create the water futures we imagine and want? The articles in this issue present work that draws on history and art, community engagement and community-based practices, Indigenous epistemologies and analysis of satellite data. Collectively, the articles point us toward provocative and creative examples of the water futures people are already striving to create....