March 20, 2019

Researchers, grad students celebrate World Water Day

World Water Day, celebrated annually on March 22, highlights the importance of freshwater and is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.  

Not surprisingly, the Great Lakes State has several activities planned. At MI World Water Day at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Wayne State University Department of Communications professors Kelly Donnellan and Rahul Mitra, along with graduate students Kelsey Husnick, Mostafa Aniss and Jacinda Gant from the WSU Resilient Institutions & Environmental Sustainability (RISE) Lab, will field an information table and facilitate a workshop.

Department of Communication professor Rahul Mitra (right) and graduate student Mostafa Aniss, along with others from the WSU Resilient Institutions & Environmental Sustainability (RISE) Lab, will field an information table and facilitate a workshop during MI World Water Day.

The 90-minute workshop, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will discuss the lab’s Detroit Water Stories open-access oral history project about water security issues. The project, which launched in October, uses personal interviews, blog posts and scholarly essays by the research team, and video webisodes to highlight the lives of impacted Detroiters. 

“The goal of the project is to look at experiences of water security in the urban Detroit context,” said Mitra. “Although stories of water security are commonplace, especially in older cities and the Great Lakes region, we haven’t really had research that deals directly with the perspectives of people who are impacted by this on the ground. Even less has looked at how different community organizers, policymakers and health professionals are mobilizing to address the situation on the ground.”

The World Water Day workshop will demonstrate the resources on the Detroit Water Stories website and include a storytelling session where participants can share their experiences and suggest strategies for collective action.

“Eventually, our goal is to use this research to amplify grassroots voices and solutions, and help enact policy change to provide water security to all residents,” said Mitra. “This work does not begin or end with Detroit alone, as water insecurity is a problem faced by residents across the United States, but we believe that Detroit can provide a useful grassroots-led model for communities everywhere.”

Detroit Water Stories is funded by two grants. One is from Wayne State’s research enhancement program in arts and humanities and the other is from the Waterhouse Family Institute, housed within Villanova University’s Department of Communication.