Panel Discussion – Is Good Water a Common Good?

July 10, 2016 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
BYRDCLIFFE Kleinert/James Center for the Arts
36 Tinker Street

As part of the exhibition MOVING THE WATER(S): ASHOKAN FUGUES 2016, a multi-media installation by artist Margaret Cogswell, the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts presents two important panel discussions examining water as a resource and site of community activism and political tension. Both events are free to the public.

On Sunday July 10, a panel of local water users who unexpectedly became involved in protecting Woodstock’s water supply will address the question “Is Good Water a Common Good?” The panel is hosted by Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL, a pediatrician and bioethicist who serves as Senior Research Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper and is co-author of CHPNY’s Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking. Dr. Nolan describes the panel’s foundation in the question of “who ‘owns’ water, or better, whose responsibility is it to protect and conserve water, and who benefits from those efforts?” The panel will look at the issue of bottling water for sale, examine under what circumstances people are called upon to share water with those outside the local watershed area, as well as under what circumstances, if any, water should be bottled and sold. The other panelists participating in “Is Good Water a Common Good?” are Rebecca Martin, a critically acclaimed songwriter who has released eight albums and is a community organizer and activist. Martin co-founded the platform in 2006 to help nurture citizen engagement. Aidan Ferris started working to protect the environment when she was 15 years old and co-founded Earth Guardians-New York, working with future generations to protect the earth. Recently, she led youth involvement in community efforts that stopped Niagara Bottling Company from drawing from Woodstock’s water supply for a bottling plant near Kingston, NY.

The second panel is titled “We All Live Downstream,” and takes place on Sunday, July 24, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Vin Coluccio, an Environmental Health Specialist and former Chief of New York City Drinking Water Quality, will focus his discussion on the management and treatment of water quality within the boundaries of New York City’s water supply network. M. Elias Dueker, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Urban Studies and Biology at Bard College, will discuss sustainable watershed management, with questions of water quality and how science can support communities in making informed decisions about their water. Of particular interest to Professor Dueker is shifting public attitudes toward water when considering drinking water vs. surface waters vs. wastewater. “The more we know about the many pathways a water molecule can take,” he notes, “the better able we are to make good decisions about this precious resource.” Diane Galusha, Communications Director and Education Coordinator at Catskill Watershed Corporation and author of several books, will give an overview of New York City’s quest for water from colonial days to the 1960s, posing the question: why should every New Yorker be aware of this history? Galusha points out how this “informs contemporary programs to protect this irreplaceable resource, and explains monumental and expensive infrastructure projects that are going on today which impact ratepayers and consumers.”

The panel discussions will take place in the powerful environment created by Cogswell in the Kleinert/James, including video, audio, sculpture, and works on paper. The exhibition is on view through August 14, 2016.

Panel Discussion “Is Good Water a Common Good?” – Host’s and Panelists’ Bios

Host: Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL
Dr. Nolan is a pediatrician and bioethicist, with training in epidemiology and research design. She serves as Senior Research Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper, where her work has focused on articulating the health impacts of high-volume horizontal fracturing, promoting trail construction and outdoor recreation, and moving toward a net-zero carbon future. She is also a co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York and co-author of CHPNY’s Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking.


Maine-born Rebecca Martin is a widely respected and critically acclaimed songwriter, whose talents have allowed her to effortlessly straddle the worlds of jazz and pop. She has recorded with some of the world’s most esteemed musicians and released eight albums. As a community organizer and activist, Martin co-founded the platform a decade ago to help nurture citizen engagement. Recently the platform was at the center of protecting Kingston’s reservoir, driving out a national bottling company that planned to bottle and to sell the municipal water source.

Aidan Ferris, an environmental solutionary from Phoenicia, New York has been passionate about protecting the environment since age 15, working to educate and inspire those around her to take action on climate change. Recently, Aidan was highly involved with her community’s efforts in successfully stopping Niagara Bottling Company from building a bottling facility and tapping a lake in Woodstock, NY. An active member of the RYSE youth council, she has led several workshops focusing on climate justice solutions that youth can bring into their communities. With the better part of a decade’s experience working with children, Aidan is enthusiastic in her mission to teach the future generations how to be the caretakers of the earth and with this goal in mind, she co-founded a chapter of Earth Guardians in Woodstock, NY. Since starting a crew, Aidan has spoken at many public hearings, bringing the voice of the youth to the table. As the Global Engagements Director with Earth Guardians she corresponds with and supports Earth Guardians Crews Globally in their actions and projects, helps new sign-ups start and build their crews based on the needs of their communities, facilitates monthly Global Crew Calls that help create connection and collaboration amongst the Earth Guardians network, manages the Protect Our Future Campaign by creating quarterly projects with specific focuses that every crew participates in and helps to maintain a strong social media presence. She is excited to continue to empower and elevate the young people around her to rise up and become leaders in the protection of our Earth.