Think Water Utah Library of Virtual Events

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Think Water Utah is a statewide conversation on the critical topic of water presented by Utah Humanities and its partners. Find digital resources here to participate in this statewide project.


Think Water Utah contributed several sessions to the Utah State Historical Society's annual conference focused on water at the confluence of past and future.  

        • KEYNOTE | The Confluence of Water, History, and the Public in Utah | Water has always been the critical resource in Utah and the American West. Now more than ever—as our state grapples with rapid population growth, an ongoing “mega-drought,” and the worsening impacts of climate change—understanding Utah’s water history is essential for an informed public. In this address, Gregory Smoak, director of the University of Utah’s American West Center and Utah Humanities State Scholar for the Think Water Utah project, explores the historical contexts of several of the most critical issues facing Utahns as they consider their present and future waterways. 
        • SESSION | Sharing Difficult Water Stories: The Think Water Utah Project & the Public | Think Water Utah encouraged local museums and their communities to critically consider the role of water in shaping human experience and culture across the state. This panel features several people involved in the project to share their experiences curating content about Utah water history for a broad audience through research, essays, exhibits, and public programming.
        • SESSION | H2O Today: Collaborating the Story of Utah Water's Past & Future | The Smithsonian H2O Today exhibition was co-curated and toured by Utah Humanities in collaboration with community partners as part of Think Water Utah. Hear from members of the statewide team how this national exhibition was flexibly designed and adapted with Utah content. From interactives and educational materials to companion exhibits and public programming, learn how these elements and this team worked together to help visitors grapple with Utah’s uncertain water future.
        • AWARD PRESENTATION | An Outstanding Achievement Award was given to the Think Water Utah Project Partners for their statewide collaboration and conversations about the critical topic of water. Utah State History's annual awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to history, prehistory or historic preservation in Utah.


Utah water stories of challenge, adaptation, change, success, and sometimes failure! 


Learn more about Utah's unique relationship with water! 

              • Jim Aton, author | The River Knows Everything, an overview of the 12,000-year history of humans in Desolation-Gray Canyons, including Native peoples and Anglo ranchers.
              • Larry Cesspooch, Ute elder and storyteller | Learn how water has shaped not only our earth, but important stories and ways of life along the way.
              • Zach Frankel, Director of the Utah Rivers Council | There are consequences to continuing unsustainable practices with our precious Utah water. Learn about the one important culprit of water overuse in Utah (it isn't laundry) and the impact of water diversions on people and wildlife.
              • Jedediah Rogers, Senior Historian at the Utah Division of State History | Learn about the ecological and cultural importance of the Sevier River and Sevier Lake in central Utah as well as their relation to the Great Salt Lake, another body of water in the ancient Bonneville Basin.
              • Christa Sadler, geologist, educator, writer, and naturalist | Did you know that the Colorado is the Hardest Working River in the West? Learn how allocation of the River has changed over time.
              • Chip Ward, author | Moderated discussion of "Canaries on the Rim," "Hope's Horizon," and "Stony Mesa Sagas," books about how we are embedded in the natural world.
              • Roy Webb, archivist & historian | "John Wesley Powell in the Lost Canyons of the Green River" focuses on Powell’s 1869 journey in the upper stretches of the Green were where crew members learned to handle ungainly boats and first realized just what dangers they were facing downstream.
              • Terry Tempest Williams, author & activist | "Believe" is an essay written specifically for the author's conversation with the Brigham City Museum about her book “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place,” the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, and the role that water plays in Northern Utah’s delicate landscape.


Step into the landscapes that inspired some of the American West’s greatest literature. Led by scholars in both science and the humanities, this activity engages participants in the life of their local waterways. Access an online video of a water-oriented trek (below), readings and map to take with you as you visit that location, then join us for a Zoom conversation about the experience. Here are watery walks we're taking!

              • Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Brigham City, Utah | reading Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams with Riley Nelson (Biology, BYU) and John Bennion (English, BYU)
              • Fife Wetlands, Jordan River, Salt Lake City, Utah | Join Natural History Museum of Utah entomologist Christy Bills and poet Nan Seymour for a River Writing session in the heart of Salt Lake City at the Fife Wetlands, inspired by May Swenson's book Nature: Poems Old and New.
              • Kanab Creek, Kanab, Utah | reading To Die in Kanab: the Everett Ruess Affair by Jack Nelson with Ami Comeford (English, Dixie State Univeristy), Jaimi Butler (Great Salt Lake Institute, Westminster College), Riley Nelson (Biology, BYU) and John Bennion (English, BYU)
              • Native Rock Imagery in Moab | Join Hopi guide Bertram Tsavadawa and archaeologist Don Montoya for a conversation about Native rock imagery in Moab, with the Moab Museum.
              • Ogden Overlook Trail, Ogden, Utah | reading In the Museum of Coming and Going and The Blue Nude Migration by Laura Stott with the author, Laura Stott (English, Weber State) and John Bennion (English, BYU)
              • Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake, Utah | Reading The Spiral Jetty Encyclo: Exploring Robert Smithson's Earthwork through Time and Place by Hikmet Loe, with the author and Jaimi Butler (Great Salt Lake Institute, Westminster College). Tune into their extended conversation, held as part of Utah's Thrive 125.
              • Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter, Park City, Utah | with Xiumei Pu (Environmental Studies, Westminster College) and Jaimi Butler (Great Salt Lake Institute, Westminster College)


Dive into water with these do-it-yourself activities! 


Use these videos in conjunction with your water exhibition to generate local conversations on the importancce and essential nature of water.

              • WATERSHEDS | How do people in your area manage water in cooperation with people in other areas?
              • WATER QUALITY & AVAILABILITY | How do people in your area work to protect water resources?
              • WATER RECREATION | How do people have fun on and around water? How does water bring people together in your community?
              • INSPIRATION & CONNECTION | How do people in your community connect with water? What are the personal and cultural impacts of water in your area?