Yemaya, a Fire in the Belly puppet, represents a water/ocean goddess originally from the Yoruba people of West Africa. Photo: Marjorie Wilkins

"Water, Precious Water": A Community Celebration
by Katie Nadeau

The Syracuse Community Choir, in collaboration with the Onondaga Nation, Partnership for Onondaga Creek, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON), the Syracuse Peace Council, SUNY ESF, and Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation, and Youth jubilantly announce "Water, Precious Water", a day of song, learning, and celebration (details).

"Water means so many different things to so many different people," said Karen Mihalyi, SCC's artistic director. "Not only is it something our bodies need to sustain life, it's also a force that brings us together - something that everyone can relate to."
Water, Precious Water
A Community Celebration!
Sunday, June 11
Syracuse's Inner Harbor

(To get there: If you're heading north on Salina St, take a left on Court St. and follow the signs)
3 - 6 pm

*Guided tours of Onondaga Creek
* Hands-on demonstrations about 'how water works':

-stream table
-storm drain stenciling
-stormwater models
-water sampling
-other great interactive demonstrations
* Viewings of renowned artist and water conservationist Marasu Emoto's videos and art
* Have a picnic
* Give input on the future of Onondaga Creek
* Create your own water poetry and art
* Listen to storytellers spin their tales
* Participate in a drum circle
* Take a canoe ride on Onondaga Creek
* Get information from Sierra Club, Cornell Cooperative Extention, Project Watershed, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, and more!
* Purchase Native art and items from Syracuse Cultural Workers

6 - 8:30 pm

Come and enjoy performances by the Syracuse Community Choir, Children's Choir, Fire in the Belly Puppets, Onondaga Dancers, guest artists, and speakers from the Onondaga Nation and Syracuse Community. Sing along and have a great time!

Water and Peace
Water is synonymous with life. Without water, or access to water, societies crumble and many turn to war.

According to the International Red Cross, "War and water have always been inextricably linked. The logic is clear: destroy your opponents' access to water and you reduce their ability to fight. In the arid Middle East, many analysts believe that one of the region's more intractable, underlying disputes is over the control of water courses." World leaders have noted that even if we solve every other problem in the Middle East, but do not take care of the water problem, the region will explode.

Indigenous People and Water
The Tlatokan Atlahuak Declaration was issued by the Indigenous Sessions held in Mexico City this March 17-19 during the people's counter-conference, which was organized as a grassroots alternative to the corporate-sponsored Fourth World Water Forum held in Mexico City. A grassroots parallel forum was held on March 17-18 for the many indigenous peoples from Mexico who were not able to pay the high registration fees charged by the World Water Forum.
Many indigenous communities throughout the world are still experiencing depletion and contamination of water from mining and other polluting activities. They are calling for the formation of an Indigenous Water Defense Committee to watch for violations of water rights within indigenous lands and territories. The declaration was submitted to the Secretariat of the World Water Forum and reaffirms the importance of not privatizing water as well as its inherent sacredness.

Water In Our Lives
The theme "Water, Precious Water" was chosen for the festival and concert in part to honor and promote the protection of local waters, and to highlight the work, dedication and vision of the Onondaga Nation and the Partnership for Onondaga Creek. The celebration also corresponds with the United Nation's International Decade of Action - "Water for Life". The primary goal of the "Water for Life" Decade is to promote efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015.

According to the United Nations, we are presently facing a global emergency in which over one billion people lack access to a basic supply of clean water, and over two billion do not have access to adequate sanitation, the primary cause of diseases linked to water.

"As fresh, healthy, potable water becomes more and more scarce throughout the world, it is up to us to affirm what it means to our lives and our cultures, and to educate each other about how to protect and preserve the resources we have left," said Mihalyi.

Katie is on the Board of Directors of the Syracuse Community Choir. Contact her at (585) 944-4024.