Water Blog

August 13, 2009
reSources: Saving Living Systems (A report fromTibet/China)

The team: Lacuo Zha, Betsy Damon, Brock Dolman, our translator and our driver. Lacuo, a well-known Tibetan filmmaker and producer, is my partner on the project to document the water culture and begin eco solutions for wastewater and energy. Brock Dolman, Director of the Water Institute at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and a permaculture expert, added tremendous knowledge about eco systems and added élan. In our jeep we were three languages and three cultures with Gong Ling as our ever-challenged translator.

In twenty days we covered 5000k visiting water sites, villages and cities by horse back, hiking and having the five us crammed into a jeep. I do not remember many paved roads. On the way we were jostled and jerked over high passes and navigated hairpin turns. We passed through ancient villages, herds of yaks in their summer meadows, and nomads, as we avoided colliding with the large blue, red and green trucks careening toward their destinations. We slept on roofs, talked and ate with the head of villages, lamas and city officials. We visited every water system we could (and then some!) and we were graciously received everywhere we went - including a dread-locked lama who protects the eco-systems/head waters in the valley below the cave where he has lived for 23 years.

We documented our travels with photography, film and video, took a GPS reading for every ‘sacred’ water site that we found and discussed ecology with villagers and monks. We were shown that there are integrated water systems that have been used for centuries. These systems supply irrigation to crops, power wheels to mill barley and turn prayer scrolls, and now these same churning waters also provide electricity on a micro scale. There is a growing awareness of maintaining the eco-systems in Tibet, but we also noticed that there were no wastewater treatment systems in any town, city or village and very little garbage collection. We discussed these issues constantly with our Tibetan partners while visiting amazing headwaters of rivers and small water sources in villages. At one monastery we spent the morning doing a clean up with the young monks who did not yet understand what was and was not “garbage”. But, once they understood, they were extremely enthusiastic about picking up every scrap of plastic that was strewn on the banks.

A beautiful example of DIY garbage awareness was demonstrated by our partnered media artist, Lacuo. She would laugh frequently as she started to pocket garbage, creating bulges in her pants. Few out here realize that plastic is toxic. Often it is used as a prayer and placed in a small stream and held in place by a rock. We were scolded at one nunnery for trying to pull this plastic prayer out from under the rocks. But, any water site that is considered essential for the health of that community is vigorously protected and celebrated. Only twenty years ago almost everything used was biodegradable, and so there was no reason to worry about the consequences of throwing out scraps of refuse. Clearly they are on the cusp of a change. The water culture is everywhere and informs the very foundation of living. Now is the time to bring an awareness of integrated sustainable solutions in the face of globalization, and the extraction of the resources.

We spent the final five days in Chengdu meeting and talking with numerous environmental activist organizations and NGOs, and then we tearfully said our very reluctant good byes. Our first next step is to fund training programs to initiate wastewater systems in villages and monasteries and we have identified a village and monastery that is willing to be model in how these systems can work. We are also making a book and DVD.

Thank you again to all of you who have supported this project! Your help has been deeply appreciated!

Betsy Damon

Other Good News
The Living Water Garden in Chengdu, China, will be recreated in a small working system in the Shanghai World Fair. Also, the Beijing Water Institute, where Betsy taught eco design, is now restoring the Beijing rivers with sustainable, beautifully working plans.

Betsy on Tour
Betsy will be in Dayton, Ohio, September 13-18
Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 2-5
Bay Area and Bioneers, September 27-October 18
Stuart, Florida, November 4-10 and January 8-22


July 14, 2018
Mother Earth Conference

June 19, 2018
Keepers Board

April 20, 2018
Betsy Presented at University of North Carolina

November 14, 2016
Betsy Speaks at the 10th INTECOL Wetlands Conference, Changshu China

February 28, 2016
Betsy at the UN: The Power of Collaboration

January 05, 2016
A Wall: Socially Engaged Art from Greater China

November 25, 2015
Water: Elemental, Mutable, Essential

November 20, 2015
Healing Power of Art

October 08, 2015
Documentation of Betsy Damon's talks in Logan Utah

August 20, 2015
Website for Living Waters of Larimer

July 20, 2015
ArtPlace Grant for Living Waters of Larimer

March 03, 2015
Living Water of Larimer Workshops

February 15, 2015

January 28, 2015
Press for Living Waters of Larimer

December 16, 2014
2015 Fundraiser - Original Prints from Betsy Damon

November 01, 2014
Betsy at the International Water Conference

August 18, 2014
The Keepers Board Convenes

June 01, 2014
Water, Water Everywhere

February 10, 2012
It's About Water

October 30, 2011
Living Water

September 28, 2011
Newsletter from China

April 28, 2011
Project 12x12

February 18, 2011
The Dream of a River

October 11, 2010
An Amazing Model for Clean Rivers and Sustainability by Lonnie Feather

May 14, 2010
News from Betsy Damon and Keepers of the Waters – May 2010

December 30, 2009
Happy New Year (To Be Alive is to Have Water)

December 06, 2009
Composting toilet as a holiday gift?

June 30, 2009
reSources: Saving Living Systems (Hello Dear Friends)

June 02, 2009
"reSources: Saving Living Systems"

September 15, 2008
Update from China, September 15th

September 06, 2008
Great news from Keepers of the Waters and Betsy

August 19, 2008
Betsy Leaving For China

January 12, 2008
News and Projects

November 21, 2007
We Could Have Such a Beautiful World

December 18, 2006
Water - The Link in Our Life

June 24, 2006
Project Updates

May 23, 2006
Betsy in China

November 03, 2003
Water Exploratoriums in Oregon, Public Art in Beijing

August 30, 2003
Volunteer Opportunities in China

June 30, 2003
New Keepers of the Waters Online Network up!

June 30, 2003
Edwards Aquifer Park Design

June 30, 2003
Water and Art Exploratorium at elementary school

June 30, 2003
News from China