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One Day, our short film goes public for Water Day!!

To celebrate World Water Day 2024, our award winning short film One Day We Will Dance with You is now available! Watch it here and spread the word!


Blog by writer and performer Kate Adams Image by Evgenia Bourzoukou


The relationships between sustainable water use and peace, and between drought and conflict are close. So the theme of this year's World Water Day is 'Water for Peace'.


So while we want to celebrate our relationship with water on Water Day, we also want to change things for the future. One Day We Will Dance with You is therefore, first and foremost a film that celebrates water: we celebrate human bonds, molecular bonds and our belief in our capacity to come together and change things for the better. But we also recognise our grief, our fears, our losses.


Our arts and science collaboration


We made One Day as part of a collaboration with a EU Horizon funded project, WATERAGRI. And very loosely riffing off the theme of water and peace, I want to share a bit about what I've learned about their work and where we are now.


WATERAGRI are coming to the end of an extraordinary period of research into how we can improve sustainability in farming; in water use and retention, and nutrient recycling.


But what is nutrient recycling? Water retention? What does this all mean?


There are a few little water themed dance moves in the film that can give you an idea. But essentially, for many years, intensive farming practices have been damaging soil structure and biodiversity and reducing its ability to keep hold of water, and to cope with droughts and heavy rain.


First question: is this a serious problem and does it matter? Answer: yes, if we want to grow food in soil, which we do. And especially if there are going to be more floods and droughts, which there are.


So the second question: how can we adapt the ways we produce food to avoid this? Can we keep the water and nutrients in the soil, rather than losing them into streams and rivers (and thus also polluting them)? Answer: with awareness of complexity and sensitivity to nature. Yes.

 

For me, WATERAGRI’s research really brought home the need for a holistic approach to sustainable farming - looking at all the environmental, social and economic aspects together. It was clear from the research on wetlands that we can learn from nature while also drawing on contemporary research and technology. Integrating nature-based approaches like constructed wetlands into suitable areas of farmland has real benefits in keeping the water and nutrients in the land and reducing the impact of floods and droughts. At the same time, wetlands can improve the richness of habitats, biodiversity and ecosystem health. This is just one example. Drawing on the way natural ecosystems work in the very different regions we grow food means we need diverse approaches. But the aim is the same - working with nature instead of against it.

We don't often give ourselves space to reflect on loss of soil biodiversity or to take that loss of life personally. However, soil ecosystems are inextricably connected with our ability to feed ourselves in the long term, so even if you don't feel love in your heart for the earth worms (they are amazing), the urgency of widespread transformation is inescapable.


So why not just do it?


We know transformation is hard. There are many barriers to change (social, psychological, cultural etc). But it is possible. As always though, the biggest challenge is money.


Farmers can't put these kinds of measures in place without financial support. And the subsidies aren't there to make these changes. So then the question is, how can this kind of research project influence agricultural policy, so that the support is there? In the European context, how is the next Common Agricultural Policy going to respond to the urgency of transformation?


Because what I've learnt in this collaboration with WATERAGRI is that agricultural policy affects everything - clean drinking water, food for the next generation, war and peace.


To draw this to a close, I'd like to return to celebration. In our theatre show Water is Attracted to Water, we imagine a Water Day, in which we really celebrate water. We sing songs, we do the Water Molecule Dance, we celebrate water science and we imagine a birthday cake made out of sand so the tide can rise and eat it all up. That is really where the idea for the film came from, the idea of celebrating and finding joy in dark times. It was in between lockdowns with all the theatres closed and no sense of what might happen in the future, so we thought, well... one day we will dance with you.


Sending wishes for water and wishes for peace to all!

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