On July 10, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. For the first time ever, the Army Corps admitted to willfully and knowingly releasing toxic water containing cyanobacteria and harmful algal blooms, without warning, from Lake Okeechobee to St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers.
The importance of this admission presents an opening into resolving a lethal impasse spanning decades between government, agro-business, environmentalists, and communities impacted by water management policy. These decisions impact communities to the east, south, and west and the Everglades, ultimately determining the quality of the water that constitutes the 1.5 million acres of the tropical wilderness of the Everglades, potable water for 6 million people and wildlife downstream, as well as the coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Mexico surrounding the Florida peninsula.
ARTSail has partnered with Friends of the Everglades to deliver a multi-pronged project, including a year-long artist residency with Christina Pettersson exploring the Lake O. region, public outreach programs, and the resulting bi-lingual publication, Water Ecologies for our Shared Future, aiming at building new audiences by bringing stakeholders across multiple sectors together. Our premise is that bringing an accomplished visual artist into the scenario can instigate new messaging and outcomes.