What We Do

Theory of Change

Our Vision

We envision a world where all people have equitable access to safe water and sanitation, as well as a voice in the management of this shared and sacred resource. We envision living rivers, thriving communities, and water systems that work with nature.

Our Mission

We use story-based strategies to advance water justice and resilience. We work to make water communications more accessible, and activism more effective, so the people most impacted by water challenges have greater agency to determine the solutions.

Geographic Focus

The Water Hub will focus initially on the Western United States, working to build power and advance water progress at the local and state level.

The Problem

The West is facing widespread water pollution, periodic shortages, access gaps, and infrastructure failures. These problems are as much social and political as they are structural. They come from treating water as a commodity, and rivers as plumbing systems.

In order to bring basins into balance and meet community needs, we have to change the way we relate to rivers and each other. It starts with bringing more people into the water movement, and honoring their expertise.

Limited communications capacity can be a barrier, because it results in water news that is dry and technical. People tune out content that doesn’t reflect their voices or values, and therefore don’t engage in water issues impacting their communities. Without public pressure, decisionmakers often defer costly or controversial investments.

We Believe

  • The West’s water problems are fixable if we can build the political will.
  • People care about water, but could benefit from clearer communications.
  • Public awareness and engagement will lead to better water management.
  • A more equitable and inclusive water movement will be more effective.
  • Stories shape systems. We have to shift the narrative and power map to change policies.
  • Narrative change is a long-term undertaking that requires organizing, strategic communications, arts and cultural work.

Core Strategies

Center the leadership of impacted communities

Mainstream stories and solutions shared by the groups closest to water challenges.

Tap into the deeply personal relationship people have with water

Use imagery and stories that help people connect our issues to their daily lives.

Shift from a narrative of scarcity and sacrifice to one of progress and possibility

Celebrate incremental wins, without losing sight of the work ahead.
Pitch solution stories that show the multiple benefits of smart water management.

Communicate a vision for water progress that supports individual policy and project wins

Develop simple materials that show what just and resilient water management looks like; highlight real world examples via the press and social media.  

Promote win-win strategies like water efficiency, on-site reuse, and groundwater replenishment.

Help advocates build a broad and durable power base

Provide research, training, strategy, and hands-on help to partner organizations.
Facilitate coordination across campaigns and coalitions, emphasizing shared values.
Break out of the environmental silo: connect to housing, health, labor, climate, and other movements.

Generate media that builds water literacy and emotional engagement

Cultivate relationships with journalists by flagging and contextualizing breaking news, connecting them with new spokespeople, and packaging stories for easy reporting.

Work with artists, organizers, and cultural workers to create and share creative content.

2020 Priorities

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Expand access to safe and affordable drinking water

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Highlight climate-related water risks and opportunities

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Recognize the cultural significance of waterways