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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions June 28, 2016

12/26/2013 1:04:00 PM
Commentary: Small act could be huge
Sharron Porter's
Sharron Porter's "Living River" is part of the traveling art exhibit on the Verde River, "A River Runs Thru Us." Now on its way to the state capitol, the exhibit is the result of the Verde Artist Challenge initiated by Verde Valley Land Preservation.

By: Steve Estes
My Turn

The City of Cottonwood and the Towns of Clarkdale and Camp Verde are jointly sponsoring Verde Valley Land Preservation's (VVLP's) celebrated "A River Runs Thru Us" art exhibition to stand in the Arizona State Capitol Executive Tower lobby. The exhibit will show the entire month of January 2014. On the face of it, this is a nice piece of news. Drilling deeper, the significance of this act could be huge.

Governments not infrequently do collaborate on important matters. A number of issues, however, can cause municipalities to isolate.

Out here in the arid West few issues are more critical, yet more polarizing, than water. Regional cooperation in managing our water resource is cited by scientists and policymakers alike as crucial to the health of that system and its communities. Incentives to collaborate, though, can be neutralized by competing local interests - economies, tax bases, political pressures come to mind.

Big issues require big solutions. Sometimes it is the least likely players or the smallest acts that lead the way to dissolve barriers - opening the way to really big gains. Back in 1971, a group of ping pong players became the first American delegation since 1949 to set foot in Beijing, China. What became known as "Ping Pong Diplomacy" led directly to President Richard Nixon's historic diplomatic trip to China less than one year later.

On a scale perhaps less grand, but no less important to our region, the collaboration of these three river towns may have sparked "Artwork Diplomacy". The works of art that make up "A River Runs Thru Us" sprung from VVLP's project that kayaked and camped 25 juried artists down the Verde River. In return, VVLP received the donated original artworks inspired by the trip. The travelling exhibition intends to bring awareness of the beauty and the challenges of the Verde River watershed to the public through the medium of art.

This act of "Artwork Diplomacy" not only places the exhibition in a most prestigious location, it places the messages of awareness and conservation squarely before the eyes of our state's most powerful policy makers. If we are to learn history's lesson of "Ping Pong Diplomacy," we can ride waves of momentum flowing from this act of "Artwork Diplomacy."

As stated, this could be huge.

Steve Estes is the outreach director for Verde Valley Land Preservation

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2013
Article comment by: Kayo Parsons-Korn

Perhaps those that aren't familiar with this art exhibit and how it came to pass may not get this message. Although the exhibit was well publicized in the Bugle and Verde Independent and had multiple showings around the Verde Valley.
I think what Steve is implying is that this art show needs to be seen all around the state, and definitely in the Phoenix area where SRP delivers water to consumers from the Verde River. We need to get Phoenix on board where saving the Verde is concerned, since SRP technically owns 40% of the Verde River's flow. So educating people on the value of free flowing rivers needs to be a state-wide concern. That the towns of Clarkdale, Cottonwood and Camp Verde see the value of this exhibit in changing minds in Phoenix is very important. Remind them (in the Phoenix area) that this free-flowing river depends on their water usage too.

Posted: Saturday, December 28, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

This political message is so impossibly convoluted that you have failed to get across a point.
Are you talking about a certain piece of legislation?
Perhaps you would like people to pester their state representative, on what issue?
Is their some reason that the "Water Issue" people have to be so coy?

Posted: Saturday, December 28, 2013
Article comment by: Sheree Hilker

VVLP is an inspired initiative. Marrying the important issue of water conservation/preservation with the beauty of art experienced by talented artists while navigating the Verde is a unique way for folks to see the allure of this treasured resource. Hopefully, the enjoyment of the art will lead to the "drilling deeper" Steve refers to for knowledge as to what it takes to keep the Verde vital and beautiful. This, in turn, will encourage activism, motivating people to contact those in charge of decision making to see the big picture and make choices that will benefit the health of the river as a whole! I hope this exhibit enchants and moves all who see it.

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