Located in Vermont, the United States (US), Water Music, Inc. is a communication-based initiative to create a global community that works to protect and celebrate the Earth's waters. The collaborative, non-profit initiative draws on the work of volunteers and musicians around the world in an effort to demonstrate the significance of water through music, the arts, and activism. Water Music's aim is to motivate others to make clean water a global priority by "giving voice" to water.
Communication Strategies: 

Water Music's approach centres on highlighting and sharing the beauty of clean, healthful water in an effort to communicate its significance - and to remind citizens and policy makers worldwide about what we lose when we abandon or neglect efforts to sustain this natural resource.


To communicate this message through imagery and language, Water Music offers concerts, art exhibits, and other events. At the centre of many of these activities is Water Music, a book that features 100 colour photographs by the organisation's Executive Director, Marjorie Ryerson. The photographs are accompanied by the writings and contributions of 66 musicians from around the world who have creatively responded to the meaning and value of water in their lives. The musicians share poems, essays, reflections, lyrics, and sheet music - all inspired by water. Ryerson provides readings from her book at concerts that feature a variety of musicians playing music composed in response to, and reflecting on the value of, water; images from the book are often projected at these concerts.


As detailed on the Water Music website, water-related artistry is also integrated into educational and information-focused events, such as environmental seminars, conferences, classroom curricula and expositions. Ryerson and others engage diverse, multi-disciplinary audiences on college campuses and in public schools and in other venues through lectures, discussion sessions, and readings. Live music and imagery from the book are often featured in these exchanges. For example, on March 24, 2009, in honour of World Water Day, students from six Vermont schools brought a dance performance, a student's original musical composition, a variety of science projects, creative writings and art, and many other school-led projects - all inspired by water - to the Vermont State House in Montpelier. (The video below emerged from that experience). Creating networks of those dedicated to preserving the world's water is one key purpose of these face-to-face gatherings. In addition, the Water Music Project has designed a programme called the Water Music Educational Initiative (WMEI), which teaches children about water through working with music, the arts, and the humanities. More details on the WMEI can be provided for interested parties by writing the project at water05060@gmail.com


The Water Music Project aims to have a concrete impact on water use in the developing world. Many of the proceeds from Water Music events (and the net royalties from the sale of the book) are donated to a special fund - the Water Music Fund - that is administered by the United Nations Foundation (UNF). The UNF uses the fund to protect and restore water in the natural environment and to provide clean drinking water worldwide.

Development Issues: 

Clean Water, Health, Environment.

Key Points: 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama suggested that the book Water Music "will remind readers of the crucial importance of water in all our lives. Only when enough people cultivate an inner environment that respects all forms of life, reflects a sincere concern for justice and equality, a genuine compassion for all beings, and projects all of this onto the outer environment, will the world's water and other natural resources be safe for the future." To order the book, please contact the author directly (see below), or visit the University of Michigan Press website.


For her book as well as her work with water through the Water Music Project, Ryerson was chosen as the 2005 winner of the international Harry E. Schlenz Medal, which is awarded to one individual each year who has accomplished successful public education about water. She also was selected as the 2003 winner of the Paul Keough Award, which recognises "efforts to communicate to the public the need to protect the water environment." Ryerson is also the author of the 2005 book, Companions for the Passage: Stories of the Intimate Privilege of Accompanying the Dying.

See video

Water Music brochure; Water Music website; and emails from Marjorie Ryerson to The Communication Initiative on May 14 2006 and March 15 2012.