By Taylor Baseheart, Communications Manager
Whether you are brewing a cup of coffee or asking Google why there is daylight savings time, water is the foundation of life and tied to anything and everything we do. For Valentine’s Day, I chatted with everyone on The Water Council team to learn why they love water—not just working in it, but what water means to them and how it impacts their lives. Here’s what they had to say.
HAPPY & HEALTHY LIFE
I’m sure many of you who grew up in Wisconsin have spent time on the many lakes here (ahem, Minnesota) either fishing, swimming, kayaking, water skiing, tubing…you see my point. You don’t necessarily have to be in the water to experience the relaxation and calmness water holds.
Beverley was born and raised on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland. To her the sea has always been home. “After living all around the world, I’ve come full circle back to the coast,” said Beverley. “But no matter where I was, I was happy living near the water, whether it was the Persian Gulf in Dubai or the ‘freshcoast’ of Lake Michigan; it made me feel at home.”
Coincidentally, Beverley recently heard that people who live near water are happier and healthier, a phenomenon known as the ‘blue mind.’ “I believe there is so much truth to this. Walking almost every day along rugged coastal paths or deserted beaches in winter, it clears your mind – like a walking meditation.”
And there can be some spectacular sights. “When I’m really lucky, I might see a colony of seals or a pod of dolphins. Water is truly amazing.”
Living near water is important to Amy’s quality of life. Right across the way from the Global Water Center flows the Menomonee River. Every morning when Amy opens her office door she is greeted by the river from her window. Her favorite way to exercise is a long walk through Estabrook Park to visit the lagoon and the river and to watch the variety of wildlife to be found there. “We are so blessed to be near three rivers and Lake Michigan,” stated Amy. “Anywhere you travel in Wisconsin, you’ll find a lake, river or stream along the way.” Last year, one of her favorite Wisconsin water moments was wading in a bog during the cranberry harvest in Warrens.
Growing up, Amy and her sister would have adventures in the summer by biking to Lake Michigan and spending hours along the beach, collecting rocks and wading in the painfully cold water. Her one and only fish story is the result of an afternoon of fishing at Klode beach with her dad. You can hear her story told live at an ExFabula StorySlam in 2017 where the theme was “Water.”
Multidimensional. That is the word that came to Karen’s mind when talking about water. “It is a part of everything and anything in the world,” said Karen. “It can be powerful or placid; it can comfort or consume. It is abundant and elusive, fresh and salt, and all of life depends on it.”
Before joining The Water Council, Karen didn’t give much thought to water’s role. She now has an enhanced view of water and a greater appreciation of its impact politically, socially and economically. “It’s hard now to imagine NOT considering water in daily life, whether it is enjoying the vista of the Lake Michigan’s waterscape or enjoying my morning coffee, with the ample and quality water we enjoy.”
Walking into The Water Council’s office, you may get a whiff of lavender coming from Angela’s office, and you will see plants on her door, desk and shelves soaking in the sunlight. She is passionate about maintaining a healthy lifestyle – from food, to exercise, to plants. “If you don’t have water, you can’t have a sustainable food source.”
The same holds true with all the essential oils she uses. She has visited the farms, firsthand, to see where these plants grow, how the soil is maintained, and what practices are being used to cultivate the plants. “Water plays a huge role on these farms. Not only is it important so that plants can actually grow, but it is also important in the distillation process as to not jeopardize the integrity of the plant. It is an amazing process to witness. Going to the farm that makes the very same oils I use daily makes it all the more special.”
Some of Stacy’s fondest memories are time spent around water. “I spent my childhood summers at my family cabin on a lake in the heart of the Chequamegon forest. Looking back, what a treat–swimming, sailing and fishing the lazy days of summer away.”
It’s important to note that this cabin wasn’t a ‘glamping’ experience. “For many years the cabin wasn’t modernized. That meant we had to prime an old-fashioned pump for our drinking and cooking water, which made me really appreciate not only access to running water, but HOT running water.”
Both of Stacy’s parents were ecologists and took a sustainability approach. “I feel lucky to have parents who valued our natural resources. When you know better, you do better, and that’s certainly true about how one uses and values water. Since joining The Water Council, I am even more dialed in to water issues and love that I get to champion knowledge about the innovative work being done to protect this vital resource.”
WATER PROFESSIONALS: A SUPERHEROES ORIGIN STORY
Looking back, can you remember when your passions just clicked? You just knew that you were meant for something bigger than yourself? If yes, you can pretty much guarantee that a water professional has an origin story of their own, why they do what they do.
As an undergrad, Dylan was in class where his professor showed pictures from his trip to Guyana. “These pictures were of children drinking dirty water. I couldn’t believe that was the norm. I realized how fortunate we are to have clean water straight from the tap.” He pursued his master’s at UWM School of Freshwater Sciences and is now the Alliance for Water Stewardship North America’s Program Manager.
Dylan grew up hiking, swimming, camping and backpacking allowing him to take in the natural surroundings. He learned early on how much he loved water. “Water deserves our love and gratitude. Many people can look back and say they enjoy being near water, but so often we forget that we can’t live without water. It is in everything we do.”
Water is life. This may sound like a cliché, but this couldn’t be truer. Barry goes to work every day knowing that he is saving the world. “Every person working in the water sector is making sure we all have access to this irreplaceable resource,” said Barry. “We use water in everything. When you drive your car, use your phone or computer, you are using water.”
Growing up in Virginia Beach, Barry appreciated water. You could find Barry surfing or boogie boarding (you could say he was a ‘beach bum’). After graduating college, Barry packed up and moved to Ft. Myers, Florida and started working for a company that sold water quality test systems. He continued his graduate studies in Environmental Systems Engineering and Total Water Management. “I’ve been saving the world for 29 years and counting. Once you enter the water sector, you don’t leave.”
“Marry your passions with your career.” That was the advice that was given to our VP Water Stewardship early on in his career later discovering what that meant for him.
Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, you could find Matt camping, hiking and fly fishing. “I loved being outdoors and I am still a very dedicated fly fisherman. My family and I spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking and camping, and plan our vacations around those types of activities.” He received his BA from Valparaiso University and completed his MA from George Washington University in international economics. During his time at the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the very beginning of his career, he took a work trip to Jakarta, Indonesia. When he arrived, he couldn’t believe what he saw. “My hotel overlooked a canal in the middle of the city and it was putrid brown and just filled with mounds of garbage. Kids were playing in this filthy water and parents were washing clothes in it; something just clicked for me. Water was something I had taken for granted, but there you didn’t have that luxury.”
After working in the government sector for some time, he decided to make a move and focus his career in sustainability to more closely match his personal passions for water stewardship. “I am fortunate that my career path truly aligns with my ethos.”
We are fortunate to be able to turn on the tap and have clean water, let alone hot water. You could say Dean loves water, but he makes a point that water is foundational to everything and everyone. “Without water, our society would break down,” said Dean.
He didn’t always think about water like he does now. “My realization came when I got into this industry. You become hyper-aware of water, from a cup of coffee to the car that you drive, it is a vital resource that we need every day, for everything. Everyone has a ‘water footprint.’ If you don’t have water, there can’t be life, economies or communities.”
WHY DO YOU LOVE WATER?
After chatting with the team, the common thread of why water is not only essential to life, but it ties fond memories of family vacations, calm walks along the coast or just appreciating life as we know it altogether.
It is clear that everyone on our team has a personal story of what water means to them, so now I pose the question to you: This Valentine’s Day, why do you love water and what does it mean to you?