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This we know. The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth... All things are connected like the blood which unites one family... Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth... Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. — attributed to Chief Noah Sealth, Reading 550 in Singing the Living Tradition

We name ourselves after the land we live with. Because, not only are we breathing in, we are also drinking from the water that is flavored by that very land. Whatever is deposited in the soil is in that water is in us. So we are all one thing, and we name ourselves after the place that is our nurturing. That sustains our life. — Ramona Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag artist

This workshop asks "Who owns water?" Participants examine their ideas about what can be owned and our responsibility to promote sharing of the resources all living things on Earth need. They explore how boundaries created by people affect the distribution of nature's resources, especially water.

Activity 4, Boundary Stake-out, involves a walk around your congregational building. Alert participants before this workshop that they will need outerwear.

Alternate Activity 1, Story — Sunny Side Mary, presents an option to use in place of, or in addition to, the Activity 1 guided meditation.

Alternate Activity 2 provides a hands-on exploration of how the ground holds water. Participants make their own small, model aquifers. When they add food coloring, they can observe how pollution can contaminate fresh water as it travels underground.


This workshop will:

  • Present the concept that natural resources belong to all in the interdependent web of existence
  • Invite participants to reflect on how human-made boundaries affect our ability to equitably share resources, especially water
  • Promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part; affirm that taking care of the environment goes hand-in-hand with taking care of one another.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Imagine the relationship two different children, in different parts of the world, have with the water they use
  • Consider what it means to claim ownership of water—a resource all life needs
  • Understand how human boundaries and claims of ownership affect equitable sharing of this common global resource.

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