(Summer re-run: first published 5 February 2008)
Ever since learning about water mapping from Georg Bertsch and about watershed-based planning in Toronto from Chris Hardwick at Doors 9 on Juice last year, I’ve been aware that we talked a lot about energy but not enough about water.
This prompted me in a fit of guilt to buy a bunch of books about greywater harvesting; these now sit in a dispiriting and unread pile next to my bath.
Then, bingo: I found this wonderful book called Dam Nation: Dispatches From the Water Underground which I commend to you all.
Its essays, drawings, and photographs span a wondrous range of topics: off-grid water concepts; the politics of dams and water infrastructure; watersheds as a way of understanding and living in the world.
The essays explain the often destructive relationship between human settlements and nature, but these gloomy reflections are more than counter-balanced by stories about successful resistance to dams – including advanced plans to dismantle some of them – and practical ideas on how to restore wastersheds.
Dam Nation’s editors are a reassuringly edgy and non-wet group of activists, tattooists and ‘dishwasher deviants’.
They’ve done a great job: the collection is extremely well-written. Buy two copies now: one for you, and one for an architect or urban planner who also needs to read it.