Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Many people know about the backwaters of Kerala, in the vicinity of Cochin and Alleppey. I spent some time there last week, and the scenery and ambiance were exquisite. The water, as you can see in these eight photos, while full of life, is calming to the soul. This man was treating his boat with fish oil.

Beauty of Water Website

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Trek in Periyar Tiger Reserve

I had the great pleasure of trekking for a few hours in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Thekkady, next to Kumily where I have been staying for the past weeks. These twelve images taken by Santhan and me show much better than I can write of the pristine beauty in this well cared for reserve, and the amazing light all around. The picture that looks like mud is actually a recent print from a young tiger.

Beauty of Water Website

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Gallery Red Frog 'Elephant' Art Opening

Gallery Red Frog, which opened in Kumily last September, presented a new show entitled 'Elephant' that drew a crowd for the opening last night. These twenty-one images capture some of the spirit of the event, along with most of the contributing artists themselves. Bravo, Red Frog and Santhan, who curated this show. The Gallery Red Frog website features some of the elephant images as well as at least one previous show. Manu, gallery owner, and artists Shaji, Martin, and Santhan are shown here relaxing after all the hard work they put in to prepare for the opening.

Beauty of Water Website

Sunday, December 02, 2007

From Trivandrum to Kumily

Santhan and I departed Kochi the same day I had arrived from Trivandrum, and headed to Kumily, adjacent to Thekkady, where tigers and elephants roam free in massive protected lands of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This is my new home for the time being.

These thirteen slides span scenes from Trivandrum to Kumily. First you will see the Earth Pledge posted on the grounds of the museum park in Trivandrum, where I met with Latha Kurian Rajeev. Latha is curator of Gallery 360 where an exhibit showing one of the stories of Sita, wife of Rama, just finished. The twenty-seven images on canvas are painted by contemporary artists in the old temple mural style. Shown here is author Paul Molyneaux with Sita.

Next in this slideshow you will see Latha's husband, T.K. Rajeev Kumar, a distinguished filmmaker who provided a film screening in a private home of his deeply touching 1999 film, "The Whisper of Waters" (see Cornell University write-up). I've included one shot of a few of the dozen guests present. This film has won many awards and been shown in numerous venues including in the the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival.

Then in the slideshow there are two shots from the bus in Enakulum, en route to Kumily; a shot from a Communist Party of India (Marxist) gathering in downtown Kumily; and finally scenes from the Tiger Reserve woods taken by Santhan and me from the roof of the Red Frog, an art gallery owned and run by Santhan and friends.

Beauty of Water Website

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Production for Earth Exhibit

After my stay in Trivandrum, I headed to Cochin (Kochi) where Santhan and I visited the studio and a worksite of Rajan Krishnan, longtime friend of Santhan and featured artist with Bodhi Art.

This ten photo slideshow reveals the thrilling inside story of work in progress. We are at Jayan V.K.'s Terra Crafts terra cotta production studio, where students from three local art schools, more than one hundred contributors in all, are helping Rajan produce thousands of clay pieces for an installation that will be included in an Earth themed exhibit at Bodhi in Mumbai in January. I made a couple of pieces by hand, and ate lunch with the students and crew. Jayan is shown serving rice and then standing with his terra cotta creation of Ganesh; Rajan beams light through smiles in a handful of these shots.

Beauty of Water Website

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Art Opening in Trivandrum

“Representation II: Contemporary Indian Art” opened last night in Trivandrum to more than one hundred enthusiastic art appreciators from throughout the area and abroad, including a couple of film stars and the press. Beauty of Water art lead Santhan Velayudhan, pictured here, and four additional artists contributed to the show, including Alexander Devasia, Anoop Panicker, Bhagyanath C, and Riyas Komu. Snapshots of the grounds of the cultural center that houses the gallery initiate this eleven photo slideshow. Earlier in the day the state’s prevailing Communist Party met in the city’s main arena, as Trivandrum is the seat of many governmental activities. The art opening was followed by a celebration on the roof of a nearby hotel, very lively. Sorry, no shots of the party, as I focused my sights on enjoying friends, old and new!

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Creating Love for Water" in South India

Greetings from South India! I arrived in Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, where Kalai and Raju and son Goutha fed me, gave up their beds to let me sleep at odd times, and welcomed me so sweetly that leaving seemed unnatural. Raju and I met squished side by side on a bus last year, and enjoyed our first hour of conversation about his work in sales management at a water purification company, and the Art of Living ashram where volunteers. He was fascinated with Beauty of Water, and we kept in touch. Raju is supporting Beauty of Water in many ways, for which I am deeply grateful.

Here we are in front of the most prominent art piece in their hall: a gigantic, fantastic image of waterfalls; cropped out of the picture for size reasons was an empty box from their just-installed water filter. Ya gotta love synchronicity!

The title of this entry came from a conversation with a dear friend Prakash whose family I visited in Chennai, who was absorbing information about Beauty of Water. He said, "So it is about creating love for water." Yes!

I'm now in Trivandrum, in the state of Kerala. Here is a 7-photo slideshow with images from outside of my current digs. USA owner "Gandhi" is sitting on the porch with manager/friend Rajeev, and onsite caretaker Alex is getting the coconuts from across the way.

Synchronous connections continue right and left, such as meeting Paul Molyneaux, avid cyclist, contributor to the New York Times, and author of books on fisheries and aquaculture; a new friend of a couple of hours obtained a sim card for my mobile phone, no small endeavor for a foreigner yet super important for ongoing communications; and the owner of my guest house offered to show me around an arts college. Later this week Santhan will arrive for his group gallery opening. I'll wear a new shirt I'm having stitched for the event.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Images from England

Here are eleven photos... While in England for a few days, I've captured a couple of impressions from in the city of Oxford, and more in London, including Christmas lights in Oxford Circus, grounds of Tate Modern, the Millenium Bridge, the Thames, Borough Market, and in the home of my cousin and his partner Beso, who made me delicious Georgian food. Their back yard has fig, apple, and pear trees, still bearing fruit! (Sorry, no shots of that, but you do get to see Beso.) Tomorrow to India...

Friday, November 09, 2007

New Beauty of Water Website; How to Help Clean Up Bay Area Oil Spill

Please check out the new Beauty of Water website, located where the old one was at beautyofwater.org. Tell us how you feel and what you think about the website using the contact form.

This new opening comes on the heels of the Bay Area oil spill. As of this moment, a quick search on what one can do to help brought good results on these pages: Oiled Wildlife Care Network, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Baykeeper, and posts by Anneliese Agren, who led me to most of this information.

Good Bye to the Bay Area for Now

I'm sad to be leaving the vibrant, dynamic San Francisco Bay Area tomorrow, yet excited for things to come. In the five weeks I've been here I've volunteered for Earth Island Institute's Brower Youth Awards (check out 14-year-old Alex's acceptance speech) and the Bioneers Conference. Last night I heard Joanna Macy talk at my alma matter, CIIS. She read from her re-released World as Lover, World as Self book, and said the past and the future live within us, which is undeniable from a genetic standpoint; we the living have an obligation to guard that which has become radioactive and toxic under our watch; we should each adopt something of the Earth to take loving care of. Today the San Francisco Green Festival starts (website by my friends at Earthsite.net), though I'm too busy packing to attend. Tomorrow I'm off for points east, starting with Oxford Brookes University and then on to India.

I am deeply moved by the support that Beauty of Water and I have received these past weeks, in the form of food, shelter, heartfelt companionship, and storage for my belongings. A Wisconsin visit was also a highlight, especially bicycling with Dad along Lake Michigan. Peace to all and thank you, Bay Area, for your eternal inspiration.

International Humanities Center Adopts Beauty of Water

The International Humanities Center (IHCenter) based in Malibu, California and with projects all over the world, has adopted Beauty of Water into its fiscal sponsorship program! This gives Beauty of Water nonprofit public charity status. Beauty of Water is now exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and supporters from the USA can make tax-deductible donations. This is an important step forward for Beauty of Water. We are celebrating!

Other projects under the IHCenter's umbrella include Courage to Resist, No More Victims, The Afghan Women's Mission, and The California Cars Initiative.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back in the Bay; India in November

I returned last week to my home of the past ten years, the San Francisco Bay Area, via train, which was wonderful, visiting amazing urban farmer - food activist friends in Oregon along the way. I'm now living in a captain's house on a (former) Naval base in Alameda, with beloved friends and Beauty of Water supporters. The Governor was holding a press conference where my ferry to the city launched this morning, which made life feel like a movie. Last weekend in Fairfax was as dreamy as ever, and Beauty of Water will be benefiting by connections with dear friend and colleague Carmen Mauk of Burners Without Borders with whom I had the pleasure of lunching today.

I will be heading back to Kerala, India in November, by way of England, in time for Beauty of Water artist Santhan Velayudhan's solo show in Kochi, followed by a group show in Trivandrum. We'll be collaborating on Beauty of Water for many months to come.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Conversation with Martina Florians

I met an artist from The Netherlands, Martina Florians, while in Weimar, Germany. She and others were preparing an exhibit called Le Souvenir, at ACC Galerie. Her piece, The Changing Smells, struck me as wonderfully creative, and the more I absorbed what she was doing, the more brilliant I percieved it to be. Martina's gorgeous website features this and other of her works, well worth a visit.

I brought a souvenir home from that piece, a jar containing a salty powder that held the scent of a previous participant in Martina's experiential exhibit, someone I had not met. I told Martina I'd let her know how it went at US Customs. This email conversation ensued, which touches first on her art piece, and moves to a discussion of Beauty of Water. I thank Martina for agreeing to allow me to post this minimally edited writing.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Report and Photos from Weimar Summer Courses

I am back from a SUPERB visit to Germany and the Weimar Summer Courses. These 45 slides show course activities, my instructors and the leader of the program, Burkhardt Kolbmüller, scenes from in and around Weimar, such as Goethe's town and garden houses, Schiller Strasse; a 1923 home and buildings from the Bauhaus in Weimar, an original Rodin sculpture (shown here) that lives in the lobby of the current Bauhaus University, the reconstructed office of Walter Gropius, and his studio, from which you can see the Buchenwald Memorial bell tower in the distance; some of the Bauhaus in nearby Dessau, such as master houses where Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky lived; a lovely dormatory structure where I stayed during the course, an admittedly unimaginative depiction of my visit to the famous art festival, documenta 12, and more.

I thank friends Steven Dahlberg, Isabella Pitisci, Sebastian Schröder-Esch, Burkhardt and others for providing many of these photos.

I have also posted 15 photos I took at the Buchenwald Memorial just outside of Weimar. This concentration camp was the largest in the German Reich by the end of World War II, imprisoning more than 250,000 people over eight years, 55,000 of whom died there.

As for the course itself, I could write for days about what I learned and experienced. Let me distill just one essential discovery for now. In time, more sharing will surely seep into this blog.

Over the course of these weeks in Weimar, I learned that Beauty of Water has a home, a cannon, significant precedent, and previously unknown mentors. The actual teachings offered through our stellar instructors, Hildegard Kurt and Shelley Sacks, were not, for the most part, new concepts to me, although they were fascinating and freshly framed. What kept me giddy with excitement was the fact that a well defined context exists, within which Beauty of Water fits effortlessly. It is as though Beauty of Water were part of a great jigsaw puzzle, and other pieces of the puzzle were unearthed before my eyes.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

From Bauhaus to Social Sculpture - Workshop in Germany

I am delighted to share that I received a full scholarship for a workshop that is supported by the European Union, called From Bauhaus to Social Sculpture. The Shaping of a Humane Society as an Aesthetic Challenge taking place in Weimar, Germany from August 11-25. The instructors are Dr. Hildegard Kurt of und.Institut and Shelly Sacks of the Social Sculpture Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University. This course is utterly on topic for Beauty of Water. Many thanks to those who have helped make it possible for me to attend. Happy August, all!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Family Photos

This blog centers on Beauty of Water, an international art project in appreciation for water. For more information, please visit the Beauty of Water website.

Now and then I like to share personal photos. Here are recent shots taken by family friend Andrea McDonald. We are in the back yard at the home of my sister, Lynne, on the left in this photo, where I am currently living in Edmonds, Washington, USA. My sister Sarah is on the right. Sorry, you have to create a Costco account to view these, but so far they've been good about not spamming.

Fiscal Sponsorship Research

I have been researching fiscal sponsor organizations, comparing fees, services, requirements, and application procedures. Here are some of the entities we are looking at: Earth Island Institute, Fractured Atlas, Global Giving Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Rose Foundation, Rudolph Steiner Foundation, Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, Tides Center, Universal Giving, and Work With Us. There are a couple of others, and we are open to new suggestions.

Fees and services: Fiscal sponsorship services include funds administration and accounting. The fees charged for fiscal sponsorship among these entities range from free to 10% of donations received, with most falling between 6% and 9%, plus a modest annual or quarterly fee.

Additional services offered may include: credit/debit card processing, grant support, fundraising guidance, online fundraising, leadership development, executive expertise, volunteer recruitment, human resource management, payroll, publicity, email marketing, community outreach, tabling at events, networking, technical support, website creation, content management design, database management, online tools such as forums, legal guidance, leases, contracts, insurance, and office space.

Project types: Here is a sampling of different types of projects the fiscal sponsors named above aim to partner with: environmental campaigns and programs, artists of numerous media, international social, economic, and environmental projects, community building, arts and culture, spiritual renewal, ecological restoration that makes a cultural impact by creating progressive change, environmental sustainability, international development, and youth development and organizing.

Simple application processes: While the application processes for each of these fiscal sponsors vary, it seems that the sponsors understand that there is a reason their applicants elect not to form their own non-profit organizations. That is, applicants are probably small and grassroots, hence the need for fiscal sponsorship. Most of the application procedures are relatively simple, which is refreshing and encouraging.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Powerful Networks

For anyone unfamiliar with what networking can do for a project such as Beauty of Water, go to WiserEarth and enter the term 'water' in the box in the upper right. More than 9000 organizations, including a semi-active online discussion group focused on water topics in Kerala, came up in my search results. Over the years the technologies, interfaces, and overall usage of networks such as these have improved. WiserEarth is one of the best I've seen. They have made it enjoyable to find affinity groups and share knowledge, very exciting.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Small Steps Bring Great Strides

There have been quiet little explosions in the development of Beauty of Water, which, taken together, characterize vital signs of growth.

Caroline Cumming is catalyzing development of our funding strategy and organizational structure. As a part of those efforts, the network of people and organizations that supports Beauty of Water is now captured in a spreadsheet, 200 entries strong on the first pass. You, gentle reader, are probably listed, with a note such as “great input,” “relevant connections,” or, yes, “donor potential,” alongside your email address. Previously this network was held mainly in my brain. It feels great to be able to communicate outwardly about forces that weave a collaborative context around Beauty of Water.

Caroline has been emphasizing that in order to be sustainable, a project such as this must have its own revenue source, not only relying on grants and donations, shooting for at least 30% of our budget to come from revenue. This is important for the viability of the project over time, as well as for the health and well being of those who collaborate to make it happen. We’ve begun shaping a plan, albeit a tentative one, for how that revenue might come to be.

One idea I’m interested in is gaining musical sponsorship, whereby a band would donate a song to Beauty of Water. Proceeds from the sale of that song would come to the project. Two days after this idea came to mind I learned of a non-profit called Global Music Project, which provides a mechanism for doing just that, and whose founder is in the Seattle area. I hope to meet him soon. A network called Meetup.com helped me discover this.

Caroline also leans heavily toward having Beauty of Water partner with a fiscal sponsor rather than forming its own non-profit, which Laurie Frank had also suggested. The more I learn about fiscal sponsorship versus non-profit formations, the more I see the wisdom in this plan. We’re looking into the possibilities here. Fractured Atlas is one such entity. Once we hook up with a fiscal sponsor, tax-deductible donations will be simple transactions, accessible using trustworthy online tools.

Meanwhile, I learned last week that I received a full scholarship to participate in a two-week course in Weimar, Germany this August, called “From Bauhaus to Social Sculpture. The Shaping of a Humane Society as an Aesthetic Challenge.” The course description seems to have been written for Beauty of Water. Personal funds, help from my fabulous father, and layover accommodation through friend connections, will cover airfare and transfers. I am eager to meet the instructors, Dr. Hildegard Kurt of und.Institut, and Shelley Sacks, Social Sculpture authority, whom I’ve written of before, and who let me know about this opportunity in the first place.

On the home front, personal training is going well. I’m near capacity with clients, and starting a walking group, offered as a class to members of the health club. I admit to some challenge as I move toward certification. My study buddy at work helps, yet I’m not on the fast track. I need to practice everything I learn in order to master and embody it, and that takes time.

I have many “fires in the irons,” as a friend mentioned recently. Meditation has been the saving grace. Namaste.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Environmental Movement; What's Authentic for Me

In the Paul Hawken article mentioned in the previous post, he writes of a movement, of "Something Earth-changing [that is] is afoot among civil society." I resonate with his statement that there is, "...a coalescence comprising hundreds of thousands of organizations with no center, codified beliefs, or charismatic leader."

At the same time I don't personally feel I live within the three intertwining roots he drew: environmental and social justice, and indigenous cultures’ resistance to globalization. It is fine with me if others see Beauty of Water this way. Justice and resistance are huge motivators, and I hold hands with them. I embrace Paul Hawken's article. Yet my own experience of what I'm doing is something else.

For anyone who may work with me on Beauty of Water, I want to be out of the closet. My way of being a part of the movement is not, as I see it, political nor environmental per se. I hope that partners in leadership have their own authentic ways in the movement. That can be anything that is real and constructive.

My authentic way is about appreciation, beauty, humanity, experiencing the elements, phenomenological relationship with water, expressive relationship with water, and tangible experiences of our oneness. I want Beauty of Water to re-give people a fully conscious experience of being water, of being one with water, and of being one with each other.

At some level we all already know about this, which is why I'm calling it re-giving. Refreshing. Celebrating. Sharing. For me this is experiencing the divine. Yet it is not religious.

I've shied away from writing that explicitly because any authentic way someone or some group may be with water is fine with me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Expert Guidance from Caroline Cumming

Sometimes when weeks pass and I have not posted to this blog I wonder if it seems as though nothing is progressing with Beauty of Water. This link-happy entry is meant to give a sense of the kinds of developments that occur between postings.

Today I spent a delightful mid-day strolling through the Edmonds Farmer's Market and then conversing on the patio of my favorite ZuKafe with my dear friend Caroline Cumming.

Caroline is the former executive director of 911 Media Arts Center and Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Network (see also article in Orion)... and way back in the mid-1990s, my partner in learning Photoshop techniques, among other adventures shared while working at one of the first web publishing companies.

Caroline has pointed me to information, inspirations, and resources, among them a film called Thirst, the Indian National Trust for Art and Heritage, the Wiser Earth network, and the Confluence Project, and some of Paul Hawken's work.

Caroline has also already lent great personal expertise to Beauty of Water, and is guiding next steps: a strategy document, corresponding strategic actions, and other additions to our printed materials. I am deeply thankful to have Caroline's collaboration.

This reminds me of a couple of entities I haven't mentioned: Green Maven, a search engine a that can help many kinds of environmental pursuits, put together by my friends at Earthsite, and Ashes and Snow, a traveling art exhibit that has inspired me for their bravado and powerful imagery.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Grand Opening: Website and Concept Paper

Announcing the grand opening of the Beauty of Water website and concept paper. While our public face will be enhanced over time, in particular the website will sparkle more and more, the initial review period is complete. Immense thanks to all who have collaborated on bringing these mission-critical materials to life. It is time to call forth and receive new partners to co-create the expansion. Welcome to Beauty of Water unveiled!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Personal and Project Clarity

Close friends are aware that finding clarity, such as where to live, is something I've historically struggled with. Once I have clarity, powerful things happen. Action and manifestation come easily the moment I know what I want. Yet gaining clarity, even as a process-oriented person with higher than average tolerance for the unknown, has been trying at times. Therefore I am especially delighted to share that I have determined some things about the shape of my next year.

For the next several months I plan to continue the life I am enjoying here in the town of Edmonds, north of Seattle. I love being a personal trainer at Mieko's, I'm pursuing certification, I have a private client which is pleasant and enriching and helps with cash flow, and I've got a couple of valuable trades started, wherein I receive massage and life coaching. I also enjoy my own fitness program, which includes Rodney Yee yoga DVD's -- ahhhhh! I am still living with my sister and her super fun family, and there is an action packed summer ahead.

In October I'll head to India for an extended stay, working with Santhan on the Beauty of Water art piece production. Last I heard he is locating an art studio near a river and some artist friends I really enjoyed hanging out with last year.

Meanwhile I've sent a first draft of the Beauty of Water budget out to several people who work in non-profits, arts organizations, and the like, and I've been receiving excellent input and support. More on this when I can share more officially. I've also continued to receive good contacts from artists and other water oriented professionals. Keep 'em coming!

The next quantum leap for Beauty of Water is having one or two new people partner in a big way in leadership for the project. I am ready to share this job, and to allow others to bring their creativity to it. I look forward to seeing what unfolds as it all continues to expand. Peace and blessings all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Global Event Trend

Yes, this blog design has changed. I was tired of pink.

I just learned of Live Earth, a music show set to take place over 24 hours in seven locations around the world on July 7, 2007, featuring top artists and sponsored by the people behind An Inconvenient Truth such as Al Gore.

I think the global event trend is picking up speed. That makes sense, given the state of the planet.

I can tell that some people I connect with are not especially impressed by this kind of thing, among them many socially active people. I respect that. A global happening is not everyone's cup of tea. Certainly the "Think globally, act locally" movement has immense value.

Yet some people, myself included, are fascinated by thinking globally and acting globally. When a bunch of us around the planet organize ourselves with a shared intention and express ourselves to that effect, connecting in realtime or near realtime to do it, this rivets me. I feel as though this is why I'm on the planet at this time. And it's practically a cliché now: global connecting is more accessible than ever before.

I remember being a child of five growing up in Wisconsin, imagining I had a friend in China, an exotic place I had never been to. I saw in my mind's eye a little girl wearing what I thought was Chinese clothing, and she was thinking about me at the same time. I felt so connected with her. This was probably inspired by the conviction held among neighborhood kids that China was on the other side of the planet, and if you dug a hole deep enough, say with a spoon, you would get there. I would see that hole and walk through it to meet this girl. Maybe my friend is out there somewhere, now age 42, wondering when we will meet in person. Please come say hello if you're reading this!

My first conscious fascination with global community experiences came a few years ago when I participated in a Planetary Dance of Anna Halprin's on Mount Tamalpais in California. That event started in the late 1980's.

Clearly the Beauty of Water design is influenced by predecessors such as these.

Wikipedia informs me that in the mid-80's, the first Live Aid concert was held in a manner similar to the Live Earth concert, raising funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. I was in college at that time and the concert wasn't on my radar. Indeed now the Live Earth concert doesn't draw me to participate. But I'll enjoy reading about it, and I am excited it is happening.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

NEW and Improved Concept Paper

The new version of the Beauty of Water paper is now available from http://www.alignmentconsulting.org/downloads. I am waiting to announce this widely until the email address embedded in the paper is functional and until I receive and can implement feedback on the paper itself. I am interested in readers' thoughts and ideas. Please send them to me at lizabehrendt at yahoodot com until the other email address is ready. Thank you!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Water Project => Beauty of Water

The Water Project is now Beauty of Water. Thanks to all who helped select a name. Here are excerpts from two contributors in the selection process:

is life
origin of life
is that which shapes the earth and gives it beauty through its geology,
topography, flora and fauna
has a duality: soft and yielding, flowing, controllable, the source of
life; hard, powerful, destructive
is universal- scientists think of it as the sine qua non of any kind of

(Some life can live w/o air, directly (like gilled creatures), but no
life can
live w/o direct contact with water...)


is an act of creation
is universal
effects change, so it can be creatively destructive
is a reflection of ourselves (water reflects)

Art is water, water is art
art of water, water of art...
art and water, water and art
ars, aqua (latin)
Art from water, water from art....

hm... just playing around with these... I like thebeautyofwater too.

from Tse-Sung Wu


Yes, I like Beauty of Water. I'm trying to think of a name that evokes all the other things about water, in addition to it's beauty, but that's a tall order. And of course "beauty" can mean a lot more than just how something looks. I get that. And it could even be said that "beauty" does evoke all those other things -- things such as power, necessity, life-giving, life-taking, magnitude, Godliness, fearsomeness, gorgeousness, generosity, basic-ness, scarcity, abundance. You know, all that. I guess "Beauty" really can hold all that within it.

from Sarah Behrendt


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Renaming The Water Project

The past few weeks I've been adjusting to the new job at the health club. I work six days a week, and on the seventh I go skiing. Actually last weekend I went to my dad's in Milwaukee to see my sister Sarah perform in a play ~ excellent!

I have a good first draft of the new version of The Water Project concept paper. I will post it here soon. It emphasizes the collaborative, global, and artistic aspects of the project. It may not satisfy the urgings I receive to make it more specific for potential funders. I agree that will be needed. At this time, though, I am doing my best to midwife unfolding qualities that necessarily build on developing momentum. This is happening. It won't be too much longer before we can create financial structure. We're getting out of the embryonic stage.

Meanwhile, my good friend Terry Berger, producer of most of the early photos I posted through this blog, and of several photos in the paper for The Water Project, made a home page mockup. Thank you Terry! It was exciting to see this materialize. He also created a lovely website for the Indian artist, Santhan. I helped a little partway through, but Terry made it happen. Terry's own website is worth looking at, too. He is doing unbelievable work in India.

The title "The Water Project" was always meant to be a working title, to be renamed by people involved in the project at some point in its evolution. Well, that time has come, driven by the need for a domain name. I spoke with the keeper of thewaterproject.org, a pastor named Peter, who has extensive experience in internet marketing. Long story short, we each support each others work ~ take a look at what they are doing, it's great ~ and we hope to create a partnership of some sort in the future. For now, though, I'm prompted to get our "The Water Project" a new name.

Here are the top candidates at the moment.

Please feel free to send me your opinion! My email address is available in the concept paper.

Oh, and last but not least, I have been connecting a bit with a US American artist who is interested in the project, and is already doing related work in the San Francisco Bay Area. We'll see...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Humans as Water

Agua del Lago Petén Itzá I am also in deep inquiry about WATER, water itself. I have a lot of internal messages telling me to sit with water, Be with water, and explore it on multiple levels. When I go there even just in my mind, I pretend I am a rippling lake, or a meandering river. I feel my weight as a noisy waterfall, or the weightlessness of water streaming upwards in a city fountain somewhere. I expand and become rain, falling onto the ground, forming puddles that children splash into with rubber boots. I am snow, silently floating down onto a mountain. When I imagine how these forms of water feel, personified, I become free, fluid, happy, danceful, and spiritually high. I get that this is important toward guiding The Water Project and understanding its power. We are all water.

Deepening the Inquiry

I could also call this entry Sharpening the Focus. It is in my nature to give attention to a lot of things at the same time. Sometimes, though, I get fragmented and have to regroup.

My intention for this phase has been to focus on: short-term financial sustenance, as I depleted personal funds launching The Water Project; designing sustainability for my future vis-à-vis The Water Project; learning about non-profits and other arts organizations so that The Water Project can take those steps; being a part of my family here for a while, practicing light-heartedness, skiing; and paramount to my ability to do all of the above, redeveloping habits that bring a higher level of physical fitness.

Well, it turns out that I love the personal trainer job! Twice a day I commute to the gym on foot, a half mile through tall whispering pines. And surprise ~ I suddenly have opportunity and incentive to learn about asking people to part with their money. A large part of the job is sales of specialized supplements and personal training sessions. I know I can do this because I believe in it, and I believe in it because it is thoroughly supportive of holistic health and well being. It is my job to help people achieve the goals they choose. I already have excited clients.

This morning I withdrew my candidacy for the Diversity Coordinator position at the community college. There are a lot of logical reasons for that, for example, I do not plan to live in Washington for a long time. After a lot of soul searching, though, it was my gut that told me that I have other work that is more important right now, and that my attentions would be too split if I were to learn that new job too. I am learning to focus.

As we all know, life is what happens while you're busy making other plans... I'm sure everything in this exposé is true today, yet no one can say what may unfold from here. Peace to all, thanks for reading this.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Advisor Report

I heard from Anna Halprin on my request that she serve as an advisor to The Water Project. Here's what her administrative assistant wrote: "Anna and I discussed your email yesterday. She is all for your project and sincerely believes in your vision. At this time, with sincerity, she regretfully must decline the advisory position. We understand the role is very low key and she has considered this – however, her schedule is beyond full this year. Our goal is to manage her time with great sensitivity & respect to her and her husbands aging as well as their brilliance and creativity. This is challenging to do. Please keep us posted on the project as it progresses. With our sincere support, Lisa & Anna" I take this well.

I approached Sam Bower of Green Museum a couple of weeks ago, and he also declined to serve as an advisor, citing that he felt the project was too unclear at this time. Sam spent well over an hour with me on the phone, providing feedback and support, for which I am grateful.

I have mainly received positive, constructive feedback on the concept paper and project. All of the feedback has been fertile.

It is fascinating to encounter others' reactions. For example, to me the project is crystal clear and always has been. But the fact that it seems vague to some people means that the tacit understandings I have inside of me, that to me seem obvious, are in fact not obvious at all. These understandings need to come forth and be made explicit. This is a normal phenomenon. Of course sometimes feedback creates shifts in my own understanding, deepening my sense of what needs to happen, and/or introducing new ideas. And no doubt I don't always understand the feedback. That's life in a human body. All of these points are a part of the thrill of collaboration. There is so much discovery.

I am going to hold off on asking new people to serve as advisors until I've completed the next version of the concept paper, which I aim to do in the next two weeks.

Monday, February 19, 2007

President's Weekend in Washington (+photos)

Cedar at the drum shop in Bellingham
My plan to regroup while hanging out with my sister and her family is going great. After a yummy party at April and Matt Cameron's this weekend, we goofed around in Bellingham, Washington. Lynne, Greg, Cedar (8, pictured here), and Sierra (5) are shown in these eight photos. Tomorrow I start work as a personal trainer at Mieko’s Fitness. Thursday I interview for a part-time Diversity Coordinator position at Edmonds Community College. Wish me luck! Blessings, all.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Next Steps

Goodbye for now to beautiful Guatemala. Last days were spent with new friends in the areas of Lake Atitlán and La Antigua.

Back in San Francisco, in Bay Area Fever style, I visited stellar people, danced with a group I initiated in Point Reyes Station, saw the opening of a gorgeous new space at the CircleCenter in Fairfax, experienced a talk and choreography from Anna Halprin, and for a rest, went to see movies.

Anna Halprin's Planetary Dance and other aspects of her life work have influenced me a great deal. I asked her to serve as an advisor for The Water Project, and she agreed to consider it. What a great thing it would be to have her input and blessings!

I have now arrived at the home of my sister and her fun family in Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle. My intentions while here are to re-build my foundation, as it's time to replenish the supply of moolah and I have grown tired of moving around so much; and return to physical fitness. It is time to have a home, work, and lifestyle that are more sustainable while being complimentary to The Water Project.

I am dreaming about different possible places to make that happen: England, somewhere quiet near a river in the USA, a return to the Bay Area, extended visit to India, or perhaps somewhere as of yet unconsidered. I'm open to help in creating just the right situation. I'll keep this area posted. Peace to all who visit here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Two Hikes (+photos)

Here are ten photos from a couple of hikes I took in Guatemala. The first photos were taken in the jungle at Biotopo Cerro Cahui, which is in the protected Mayan Biosphere Reserve. My eight year old nephew says that it looks like I am sitting in a dinosaur´s foot in one of these pictures. The monkeys sounded like dinosaurs, too, although I can´t say as I have actually heard a dinasaur. The next photos are from Volcán de Pacaya, an active volcano near Guatemala City. Some of the lava rocks I saw were deposited two days ago.

Status Report

I want to metion how things are going in Guatemala with regards to The Water Project. This is on the personal level, and a week from now, not to mention a month from now, this might seem completely out of date.

Fun with pastels I have been staying in Antigua lately, and it is easy to get lost here. An amazing person, who runs a community center that grows leaders who can organize to obtain government funding for projects in their communities, loaned me a CD of children´s art, and I can´t find his place to return it. That may be because he doesn´t put a sign outside of his door, which may be because the good work he is doing could possibly get him killed. So if his center isn´t open it is hard to find.

Lots of shops are like that, not because of subversive activities, rather because of the colonial history and architecture. Closed doors obscure what you thought were landmarks. It makes every day in the same ten square blocks an adventure. And it serves as a metaphor for my process. I wander around, meeting great people, sometimes making excellent connections, and sometimes getting lost.

I have met wonderful people including artists, and friends of artists. I am also helping a lovely Mayan couple get a website started for their work in sacred relationship with the earth and other Mayan messages for the world. I meet a lot of Guatemalans as well as foreigners who think The Water Project is cool.

So far, though the precise path forward is a bit obscured. My guidance tells me all is well. The seeds are planted and will grow in their time. I sit with this and trust the organic nature of the project to bring forth just the right people who are truly in communion with this work. My hunch is that the community is back up north, in El Petén. We will see...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More Good News

A close friend has sent a financial donation toward my work with The Water Project, the first from a non-family member. Thank you, Dear One!!

Another wonderful friend had offered financial support when she saw the initial version of the concept paper in October. I was not ready to receive at that time, but have since learned the answer: "Yes, thank you! Is there anything specific you had in mind for this donation?"

Bit by bit the learning comes, all in support of the project, and my incredible happiness in getting to develop it!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Visit to Tikal, Mayan Ruins (+photos)

Guard at Tikal I visited Tikal yesterday, a famous park that preserves a set of gigantic Mayan ruins. Here are my photos.

I have seen a lot in my nearly 42 years, and came with a ho-hum attitude. At first, on this rainy morning, the climb to the top of Templo IV, Temple 4, was indeed disappointing. Everyone had told me how great it would be, but it seemed like a stack of rocks to me, and besides, I couldn´t get any good photos with all that mist. They are restoring Templo IV, a process which will take many years, and there was only a small area where you could even sit.

I have been working with a book about creating your reality, "Ask and It Is Given," (Abraham-Hicks) and it teaches about how thought and emotions create our experiences. I decided to practice in this moment, and see if I could turn what felt dull into something, well, better. (You may want to practice this in an amazing place like Tikal for best results... ;-)

I started by looking for something interesting in my immediate proximity. There was a security guard, so I asked if I could take his photo. He seemed flattered, and shyly shared with me that he had been a guard at Tikal for seven years. He told me he lives 80 kilometers away (about 50 miles). It is costly to commute, say 30 quetzales (around $4.00) for the bus, so he goes home to his family every other night, staying overnight in the park otherwise. I said it must be in his heart now, his blood, this place. With touching emotion he said yes, Tikal is a part of him. He is pictured above.

Sending rocks to Templo IVCheered up by our interaction, I descended the steep steps in pursuit of my next story. I wandered around the side of the temple, and found another area of men working, willing to be photographed. This time they were setting up to bring rocks and water to the guys at the top. What did they use for this feat? A cable system invented by one of the restorers, powered by... well, just take a look.

The rest of the day went extremely well: peaceful, delightful and fulfilling. I now feel that Tikal is one of the most amazing places I have ever been. I honestly don´t know if it is because I decided to change my inner world, or if the outer world would have come to greet me anyway.

The Water Project (+paper)

My father pointed out that it has become difficult to get to the paper describing The Water Project´s concept, design, and status. From now on, at least until there is a website, versions of that paper will be available here: http://www.alignmentconsulting.org/downloads.

Images from Antigua and El Remate; News from India (+photos)

Images from Antigua and El Remate, Guatemala Here are eleven photos showing Antigua, some drawings, and El Remate in El Petén, Guatemala, where I continue with The Water Project. I have a new camera, and aspire to the greatness of Terry´s photography... this will take practice!

While in Antigua, I heard from Santhan, the sculptor in India. He said that he would like to join The Water Project, and details are forthcoming. I really felt that Santhan was the art lead for India, yet we both needed to consider it carefully. I am utterly thrilled! Santhan is the first confirmed artist for the project. I am going forward with plans for a return trip to India in February.

Here in Guatemala things go poco a poco. Moments, people, conversations, and Lago de Petén Itzá itself, a lake I am swimming in daily, have given hope and inspiration. More on that when it is time to share...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

All Is Well in Guatemala

I am delighted to report that my luggage arrived intact, my health is good, and on New Year's Eve Day I found some quetzales. They were hiding at a bank machine in a mall in Zone 4 of Guatemala City. Today I am visiting the Modern Art museum here. Starting tomorrow I plan to spend a few days in Antigua, after which I will head to the north of the country, to El Petén. This is the general area I found myself most drawn to when reading about Guatemala. Then a wise and beloved teacher, Eve Soldinger, urged me to spend time there, which affirms my sense of things. I have a digital camera now, so I will post photos soon.