The Cedar River Watershed District will be hosting the We Are Water MN exhibit at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center from April 27-June 16, 2019. The exhibit and events are designed to build awareness and respect of many cultural, historical, and personal perspectives related to water in the Austin community.
We Are Water MN is a popular statewide traveling exhibition and community engagement project that invites visitors to reflect on the experiences of local people and come to a deeper understanding of what taking care of water means to people. Science and history are also included via this 1,000-square foot, hands-on exhibit created by the Minnesota Humanities Center, MPCA, Minnesota Historical Society and Departments of Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
This is the second statewide tour of the We Are Water MN exhibit. It visits eight Minnesota communities between October 2018 and November 2019: St. Paul, Bemidji, Crookston, Duluth, Austin, Northfield, Grand Rapids, and Onamia.
Part of the work of the exhibit has been to collect stories from the community and participate in new partnerships. One such partnership is with the Welcome Center, a non-profit that supports newcomers and residents in transition. Herve Idjidina, Community Engagement Director at the Welcome Center, shared his experiences drinking water in multiple countries in Africa and how he learned about the safety of Austin tap water for him and his family.
“When I moved to the United States, I started doing what I used to do, and that is: go to the supermarket and buy a bottle of water. And this is something that costs a lot, especially for a family of five,” he recalls. “I remember that I went to hospital with my kids, just for a checkup. And the doctor was giving advice, saying ‘The water is good for the kids. The water of Austin, the water of the tap, give them the water of the tap.’ So that's the first time I heard, ‘Hey, this water is good!’
“So, I started giving that water to my kids and I started to take that water myself, too. I'm still drinking the water of Austin and I feel good. Nothing bad happened to me. So I can boldly say that it is a good water!”
You can listen to Herve’s audio story and many others in the exhibit, or here: mnhum.org/water/we-are-water-mn/.
Visiting the exhibit
We Are Water MN is open April 27 through June 16 at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center (1304 21st St NE, Austin, MN 55912). Visit the nature center website for open hours.
As part of the exhibit, the Cedar River Watershed District and their partners will offer an opening celebration on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other events include:
- Water Wednesday movies at Paramount Theatre
- Canoemobile at Austin Mill Pond, May 18
- Dobbins Creek field tour of flood reduction sites, June 11
- Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s Water Festival week, June 10-15
- Clean Our Water Service Day, June 15
Visit the Cedar River Watershed District website for full schedule and details.
Stay the day and try out these other local activities.
- After exploring the exhibit, leave time to rent a canoe or kayak from the nature center and explore Dobbins Creek (available June 1-September 29).
- The Sola Fide Observatory, also located at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, is open select evenings for night sky observation.
- Hormel Historic Home, built in 1871, works to preserve the home and legacy of the George A. and Lillian Hormel Family. It is restored to 1900s splendor and open for tours, Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- The SPAM Museum, located in a newly built, 14,000 square foot building, features nine “SPAMtastic galleries” with interactive games and photo opportunities. Go behind the scenes of the history and production of the SPAM brand. Free admission. Open Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday: 12 – 5 p.m.
- Sweet Reads is more than a regular bookstore! You’ll find new and used books, unique candies, frozen treats, and the World’s Largest Collection of Berenstain Bear memorabilia. Open Monday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays: 12 – 4 p.m.
- If you’re around in the evening, stop by Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery for dinner, a glass of wine, and some live music nestled in rural southeastern Minnesota.