Walking Water is an invitation, an action, an educational journey and a prayer intended to bring our voices, our stories, and our commitment to our local and global watersheds through the act of walking together, or moving as we’re able, following the waterways both natural and human-made. Walking Water is rooted in indigenous ways of circle, story sharing, collaboration with all beings and ultimately, the act of restoring all our relations.
We offer Walking Water as a contribution to the already existing global movement that asks us to again restore our relations to water, lands and peoples, and to re-center water as a sovereign living force upon which all of life depends.
Walking Water began through a vision received in 2012 along the Tinnemaha creek in Payahuunadu (Owens Valley), Eastern Sierras, CA. We were being asked to walk the land with water and to restore our relations with the waters and also the lands and peoples. On receiving the vision, our first step was to seek permission from the Paiute tribes to walk from Mono Lake, through Payahuunadu and down to Los Angeles – to walk a path that symbolized the California water wars. With the permission we received we began the pilgrimage of 600 miles over 3 years, each year walking for 3 weeks. We walked with tribal members, community leaders, elected officials, young and old. As well as walking, we sat in circle each day to listen, to ask our questions, to bear witness and to experience community together.
This first walk began with a core team of Kate Bunney, Gigi Coyle and Sharon Shay Sloan, supported by Win Phelps and many others who shared the vision. Alan Bacock then joined the core team in 2016 and Orland Bishop joined the core team for the walk into LA in 2017. Today carrying on the work and vision of WW is a core team with Kate Bunney as coordinator, joined by Krystyna Jurzykowski, Justine Epstein and Rina Kedem with Gigi Coyle and Orland Bishop as Guardians. Other BB members who have given their time in support roles are: Siri Gunnarson, Sam Deboskey, Brendan Clarke, Tara Milliken, Laura Whitney, and Scott Davidson. Weaving Earth serves as the fiscal sponsor.
Water is a life giving force, a storyteller, a gatherer of people, an inspiration, a teacher and holder of memory. The way water has become a ‘managed’ resource is an example of a distorted and ruptured relationship to that which gives and sustains life for all beings.
We are facing a water crisis, and we are also facing a human crisis. As human beings and as members of the community of Life, we are inextricably tied to water — without it we die. Water unites us on a deep level, reminding us of our unity and interconnection. We also recognize that issues of water injustice from Payahuunadu to Flint, Michigan disproportionately impact communities of color. We must attend to and undo the systemic and historic systems that have harmed waters and peoples alike.
The act of walking together allows us to embody the experiences of our landscape by slowing down while still moving. By walking together we also get to witness, to listen and embody other’s experiences. Each of us begins to be part of a dynamic relationship between humans and the world around us, we begin to find our place within the circle. It is one way to embody, show and hopefully inspire our deep care, love and attention to water.
The nature of Pilgrimage is simplicity, having minimal ecological impact, and a slower pace allowing us to digest what is happening around us. We walk as a political prayer. Political in the sense of re-organizing/re-forming what we hold at the center of our lives and Prayer in the sense of allowing us to be guided by something greater than ourselves.
We also acknowledge that walking is not accessible to all people, and we welcome and invite each person who is called to join these prayers for water and resilience to work with us to find a way to engage that meets their needs and abilities.
We are being asked to be creative, to think out the box, to come together in community, to be flexible, to begin acting with alternatives, to challenge and celebrate what has been and ultimately become resilient.
Want to learn more about Walking Water? Visit the website >
The issue of water management is the most crucial on the planet. I was surprised by my belief in the desert. When I came here I didn’t know if it was possible to be self-sufficient here. Now I see the water. There is a solution, we do not have to accept desert. It is so easy, we can correct the mistakes of the past hundreds of years in contact with nature.