Water Blog

April 28, 2011
Project 12x12

Hello everyone:

I like the word Yes and so I said “yes” to leading a collaborative project to build a 12’x12’ livable structure placed in a park in New York City. William Powers, author of “Twelve by Twelve, A One Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream” initiated the endeavor. He found a small group of artists to make visible the idea of living lightly, living with less and living in close connection with the foundations of life on earth – water, air, food and energy.

First Brain Storming Session
Our group has met three times and in the first brain storming session we outlined the sustainable technologies to be included such as solar and wind energy, rainwater harvesting, productive outer walls to the structure that mitigate hot and cold, separation toilets, a cold cellar, flow forms, water filtration, and green roof. First we decided to model community with three structures – each different however with an evident evolution from each other. Ideas for materials, as discussed so far, include materials from the park -- reused materials, straw bale, dirt, plants, and rope. One person is saving throwaway construction materials.

The most interesting aspect of William Powers’ book is his transformation while living in the 12x12. Upon realizing that, we have decided that the structure is about inviting a discussion, a consciousness, not about making sculpture or the best little home. On April 19 we arrived at making a box a book. The walls will unfold like pages of a book with changing text and inside will be tables, chairs, books, info and technologies to be used and transformed by others.

Box as book will be a place that invites evolving consciousness, where people meet, where materials are transformed instead of thrown away and where flexibility of purpose and mind can develop. Consciousness, transformation and flexibility are the key concepts articulated in the design.

The artists involved at this stage are: Betsy Damon, Simon Draper, Prudence Katz, Dave DOstilio, Christy Rupp with Stan Wells contributing through email, and Xavier Cortada developing the 12x12 in Miami.

Create Your Own
We think it would be amazing to have many 12x12’s across the US in as many cities as possible, each done according to the climate and potential of each place. How many could we collectively make? Innovative conversations could happen with the ideas. Consider joining by making a 12x12, place it in a public space, and involve Parks and Rec or other city organizations. Make it yours and your community’s, and appropriate for your geography and ecologies. Let’s share all our ideas. Say “yes”!

You can find the book “Twelve by Twelve” by William Powers on Amazon.com.


I have just finished two weeks in Albion, Michigan, where as a visiting artist I was part of Albion College’s Year of Sustainability. My stay included attending many classes, a public lecture, meeting Annie Leonard, visiting the wastewater treatment plant, looking at the Kalamazoo River which in Albion was altered to provide electricity to mills, a student farm, and a few new rainwater gardens. The campus may consider modeling zero run-offs into the river, rainwater harvesting and recycling of grey water.

We started three projects, one is the 12x12, which immediately excited many, and will be a project supported by several courses next year including sculpture, political science and science. Another is the redesigning of an area between two buildings. This will become an example of rainwater harvesting, greening and water reuse; the sculpture and ceramic studios will use it. The third is a longer-range project that will redesign the old canal or races used for the mills. A multi-disciplined group from art/sculpture, biology and engineering will undertake this project. Additionally, I carved and printed a woodcut of the living water drop and now have an edition of six prints.

Soon I am off to Milwaukee, WI, to look into a project with the Wastewater Management and then to Pittsburg to look at their systems and meeting community groups in preparation for an installation at the Mattress Factory and then off to China for two months.

Always, Betsy Damon


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

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?

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

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