The recent flooding and weather issues have brought water to the forefront for many. But how often do we really look at or think about water? Run the washing machine, take a shower, make a cup of tea, water the plants…I needed a wake up call. Saturday I caught snippets of a lecture and workshop by Jennifer Greene, the founder and director of The Water Research Institute of Blue Hill. Jennifer is a leading spokesperson on environmental concerns and the nature of water. Rather than preach, she had us play with water.


Though I had missed the prior evening’s lecture and could only catch parts of the workshop, it opened my eyes to something to which I have not given enough thought.

Water conservation is one of those issues that seems to become prominent only when there is a perceived imbalance and disruption in our routines. Water creates environments, carves mountains and monuments, and is basic to all life. Playing with water made me aware of its most intrinsic property – mobility.

The first experiment involved paper plates filled to the brim and participants were instructed to walk around the lawn without spilling the water.


Needless to say, there were many wet sleeves or worse, drips down the front of pants resembling an embarrassing accident. Jennifer then told the “walkers”  to look up, take a deep breath, find their ‘center,” and walk forward again. No one spilled a drop; the water was fluid on the plates but didn’t go over the rim.

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While this was highly entertaining to those watching, the real revelation was we all slowed down, tuned in to the moment and our bodies’ relationship to movement.

Next we settled inside. A table was set with large jars of water. Small bowls held diluted india ink. Tools were laid next to each place.  The first project was to fill syringes with water, then expel the air and create drops. Watching the drops form, (first right-side up then upside down) and carefully noting the shape, the light, the reflections of the room, lead to fascinating observations about the elasticity of water.

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We repeated the tasks with the blue inked water. Carefully letting one drop of clear water slip into the tall jars was anticlimactic. It was hard to see the impact of the drop. Repeating with the colored water was a delight.

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Central to life but seldom appreciated for its artistry.

Jennifer’s description of the workshop was thus:

“Water will become ‘our teacher’ as we work to understand water’s language of movement.”


12 thoughts on “Water

  1. I did a similar experiment in high school. We added a drop of food coloring to a jar of water and timed how long it took to completely disperse and “color” the water. Neat to think about the molecules of water moving in a jar enough to disperse the color. Water is an amazing element, it can be beautiful and deadly.

  2. Coming from the Uk with mainly much water! However we have huge water containers that were for imported orange juice. We water the garden -when needed (!) and flush the loo with rain harvested water from the roof via the gutters and drain pipes. Next will be the dishwasher and laundry. Artistically drops of paint then paper rested gently and pulled off makes amazing pictures for children and those pretending to be adults! Fascinating workshop – can feel something similar for our women’s evening…thank you!

  3. What a wonderful workshop. If small children had more water play mixed with age appropriate science perhaps they would grow up with more respect for such a valuable resource.
    (And why can’t we come up with ideas of how to store, move, and use flood waters? The Romans had aqueducts and underground water tunnels – there’s bound to be possibility.)
    Water flows and creates ideas…we need to watch and listen. Workshops like this one are a huge step.

  4. Here in the UK we have water meters, much like for gas and electricity. The more you use the more you pay and it’s surprisingly expensive. We got our a few years back and it certainly concentrates the mind when it comes to wasting water!

    • I don’t have city water here, I rely on a well, but you are right, we should all “meter” and be aware of our usage, unlike the days of childhood when we let the hose run for hours…

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