Watershed Storytelling: Experiential Tools for Connecting People, Place and Water

Authors: Jennifer Kitson*, Rowan University, Megan Bucknum*, Rowan University, Mahbubur Meenar, Rowan University
Topics: Qualitative Research, Cultural Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Geohumanities, environmental humanities, object-oriented, storytelling
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8229, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Because existing political regions rarely align with vital environmental systems, such as the hydrological cycle, local communities face tremendous difficulty visualizing and telling the lived stories of their connections to water. This project seeks to engage and explore human, place-based connections to water in New Jersey through use of an object-oriented storytelling prompt: the Mason jar. In this community-based research project, we engage the human body and imagination in rendering the abstract concept of a watershed, the land area into which rain falls and streams drain, more sensible. A South Jersey invention of the nineteenth century glassworks, the Mason jar has persisted for 160 years, inspiring continuous innovation, adaption, and reuse. So much more than an empty vessel, Mason jars contain the products of labor, livelihood, craft, and care. Most importantly, Mason jars preserve what we need for the future. Such a simple glass container invites us to collect, make, remember, and imagine. Just as a kitchen pantry is a collection of separate items related to food, we create a ‘pantry’ of water (and stories) from around the Garden State.

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