York Region Launches "Water Cafe" Series
Community members gather to "listen to the water speak," and share ideas about sustainability.
Saturday marked the first of several “water cafes,” a part of York Region’s "Open Water" campaign, a holistic initiative to create a long-term water conservation strategy.
A water café is a venue that allows the sharing and gathering of ideas about visions for water, bringing together many perspectives from various members of the community.
Saturday’s water café dealt with how water is celebrated among various cultures, and we were lucky enough to have several members of Georgina Island’s First Nations community attend. They led an opening prayer emphasizing water’s importance from an indigenous perspective, involving the burning of sage as a mind-cleansing start to what turned out to be a very productive seminar.
York Region’s long-term water conservation strategy involves research into the best practices for water conservation, special reports based on this research, and public events including water cafes such as this.
The water café allows for more intimate conversations and discussion on the issue of water sustainability, and what York Region can do as part of a 40-year plan to change our way of thinking about and relating to water.
"You can’t take action if people aren’t speaking,” said Eric Warner, a Thornhill native who has been working with York Region to organize its campaign for sustainable water. “We take for granted how available our supply of clean water is. The goal is to get people to stop and think about water, its importance, and how they can help preserve it. Hopefully it will get people talking.”
Indeed, it’s so easy for us to forget about how lucky we truly are to live in a country where clean drinking water is seemingly infinite. Many parts of the world do not have this same luxury.
Israel’s freshwater supply, for example, is scarce, which is why the country is constantly developing water-saving strategies, including the desalination of the nation’s seawater.
Saturday’s water café proved to be quite the learning experience, with a diverse mix of attendees from all walks of life, and therefore assorted perspectives. We closed the seminar in the same way we opened – in a circle, with some final words from members of the First Nations community.
There are still three more water cafes, which promise to be both educational and eye-opening, and, at the very least, a means to get people talking.
To learn more about York Region’s water conservation initiative, or sign up for a future water cafe, visit www.openwater.ca.