Tuesday, May 09, 2006

News Article: A Message of Harmony and Water

“Eureka Springs is the home of the National Water Center and continues to inspire us in our efforts to heal the waters,” says the home page of the organization, of which Harmony is the coordinator.

“Eureka Springs was founded on the belief that there was healing for human ills to be found in the pure, clean spring waters which flowed freely from deep inside the earth. The community’s century-long history is based on that beginning, and at least a part of the attraction to today’s visitor or new resident relates to that heritage of belief in the life re-creating properties of the waters.”

Lovely County Citizen, Wednesday, April 5, 2006

By Dale McCurry
Eureka Springs, AR – Local water steward Barbara Harmony spoke at the International Gathering of Water Experiences held in Mexico City in mid-March. The conference was a prelude to the fourth World Water Forum. More than 11,000 industry leaders, government ministers and non-governmental groups representing more than 100 countries attended the forum and/or events held in conjunction with it.

Harmony said that all who gathered were aware that 1.1 billion people on earth lack access to safe drinking water. An average of 4,700 people die every day due to lack of potable water.

The World Water Forum is held every three years. The last one, in Japan, was attended by 25,000 people, she said.

“A lot of the forum, itself, is about trying to sell big water systems to communities,” Harmony said, explaining why there were a lot of opposition and alternate events.

“The water issue is changing,” Harmony said. “It just can’t be that the dollar is the bottom line. When Bolivia tried to privatize water, there were lawsuits and counter-suits and, finally, national elections pivoted on taking back control of the water.”

In 1999, following World Bank advice, Bolivia granted a 40-year privatization lease to a subsidiary of the Bechtel Corporation, giving it control over the water on which more than half-a-million people survive. Immediately the company doubled and tripled water rates for some of South America's poorest families, according to a story at www.corpwatch.org.

The Side Shows
The International Gathering of Water Experiences, where Harmony was a keynote speaker at the invitation of Mexico’s Minister for the Environment, Claudia Sheinbaum, was held at the Palacio de Mineria.

“The purpose was to generate an inclusive space of reflection, analysis and debate centered on the challenges societies are facing around the management and use of water,” Harmony said.

Her address, “Sacred Water,” began: “My purpose here today is to talk about the change in consciousness that I believe must occur for us to share water and use it wisely.” She spoke about Eureka Springs’ experience in attempting to manage its water resources in a karst environment.

A karst environment, Harmony explained, is a system of limestone terraces comprised of sinks, ravines and underground streams.

The Long Run
Harmony also spoke at Espejo de Agua (Mirror of Water), a 5-day event held in the park in front of the Anthropology Museum.

Hopi runners bearing sacred water, including water from Eureka Springs, ran to the gathering from Arizona. Their journey took 15 days.

In Mexico City, they were greeted by Aztec dancers in huge colorful feather headdresses, Harmony said. “The spirit of the alternative gathering was reflected in the Hopi’s T-shirts that read: ‘Water sustains all life. Her songs begin in the tiniest of raindrops, transform to flowing rivers, travel to majestic oceans, thundering clouds, and back to earth to begin again. When water is threatened, all living beings are threatened.’”

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Water Self-reliance and Public Participation

The following is the talk presented by Barbara Harmony at the 4th World Water Forum held March 16 to March 20, 2006 in Mexico City.

Sacred Water

I am from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a town founded on healing Springs, in the center of the United States. I represent two groups here: The National Water Center, our small local group, and the Water Committee of the Continental Bioregional Congress.

Bioregionalists believe that we need to base our lives and culture on the places where we live and its geographical, geological, biological parameters rather than on arbitrary political boundaries and borders. We believe in the principles of local sustainable action, appropriate technology and nonviolence to our life systems

We have approached the appreciation of water in many different ways. This morning I would like to ask you to join me in a water journey made over the last 25 years. First, we will visualize the water in a relaxing manner, trying to feel ourselves as 70% water. Then I will ask you to look at the hard water issues in front of us as they have been distilled by the Water Committee of the Continental Bioregional Congresses since 1984. Finally, I would like to tell you about our experiences thanking, and being present, to the water. The water is living, wanting to be known.

So first, I am going to ask you to close your eyes and visualize a place near my home. Breathe deeply, picture yourself walking along a path in the forest that smells of pine. Along the ground is a wonderful variety of flowers, mushrooms and moss. The path starts to slope down toward a creek. Take in the wonder of the limestone outcroppings and overhangs. You come to the creek and jump from stone to stone. Breathe again deeply. Now imagine that you are at the source of the creek, a beautiful natural spring and pool. Dip into the water. It is cool and refreshing. Cup your hands and take a drink. The water tastes sweet. Notice as it moves through your body. It feels so nice and cool as it drips off your fingers. The water is so inviting, you decide to swim. As you dive in, feel the rush of energy as your body is immersed in cool water. Every cell of your body feels completely alive. The water swirls around your feet. It is circling around you and you feel your muscles relax.

In the swirling and circling water, let go of tension and breathe. Notice that as your body adjusts to the water temperature, you feel the water in your body blending with the water outside your body. Float along supported by the gently moving water. Think of the ways that you have enjoyed water that it is part of your life. Your friends are 70% water; the trees are 90% water. The air has water. See what comes to mind. Notice you are one with the water. Notice the feelings in your body. Let your worries go like leaves floating past you downstream. Think of your earliest memory of water. Feel the water in your blood and in your cells. Keeping in mind that you are a part of the water cycle, breathe again deeply and when you are ready, open your eyes feeling very relaxed and refreshed.

When the Water Committee met initially at the first Continental Bioregional Congress in May of 1984, water workers from across the continent designed a platform and wrote resolutions. We determined that Water is the basis of life on the planet and the primary organizing force of the bioregion. We promised to found a Bioregional Water Network with Water Committee Members collecting and disseminating information. We were happy to learn the good water practices of Bioregionalists across the continent.

Our PHILOSOPHY was summed up:

Water for life.
Begin the Blue Movement.
We are Water-borne creatures filled with the Water of life.
Water created first life, and all life still begins from the Water.
Water in its natural state has been damaged.
Let us heal the water.

We came to realize that as we heal ourselves we heal the water. This thought had been summed up in the National Water Center Proclamation, “As the air is the living breath of our planet and the trees are its breathing, the Earth’s Waters are its living blood, coursing through its streams with a flow as vital to us as the blood running in our veins…

“Through all our lives, the Waters have sustained, nurtured and healed our bodies and spirits. To use the Waters as a carrier and dump for “waste” nutrients is a deep wrong which impoverishes the land, and brings sickness both to Water and to us as we participate in this injustice.”

We must realize that though we continually strive to develop new technologies to deal with our problems, the greatest innovation is conservation. “All over the Earth, the rivers, lakes, and oceans have struggled to cleanse themselves of our thankless waste, but can do so no longer by themselves. We must join them to conserve, protect and HEAL THE WATERS.

Most recently, in July of 2005, there was a Continental Bioregional Congress held in Earthhaven, an eco-village in North Carolina in the United States. These were the WATER RESOLUTIONS as they were passed by the full Congress

All people have a right to clean water. Water should not be commodified or privatized.

Water is best protected by local conscious communities.

We oppose over-development of watersheds, destructive logging, and destruction of habitat.

We support replanting of native vegetation.

We support catchments of rainwater and water conservation and protection by agriculture, industry, and households. We support use of renewable energies.

In small human-made dams for power, flood prevention, or water storage - fish and silt must get through and people affected must be involved. We oppose large dams.

Full Version of Water Resolution proposed by the Water Committee (based on Cochabamba Declaration, which was ratified by the Continental Bioregional Congress in 2003; also summarizes previous CBC Water Committee resolutions):

Preamble: Since water is life, let us give thanks to the water every time we drink and use it, recognizing water as a gift and blessing. Water belongs to the earth and all species and is sacred to life, therefore, the world’s water must be conserved, reclaimed and protected for all future generations and its natural patterns respected. All forms of water in the ground, the air, and on the land are connected. There is no new water; it is a closed system, which for eons has had a natural cleansing process - a process which we should not disturb.

1. Protection and conservation
Because we seek protection for water at its source, we oppose logging and over-development of watersheds and support the replanting of trees to protect streams from sedimentation and land from erosion, and restore the natural hydrological cycle based on transpiration from trees. We support citizen monitoring of waterways for greater awareness of water’s health.

We support catchments of rainwater, conserving water through water saving appliances, and advocate use of dry composting toilets, cleaning and reusing wastewater with biological methods, and release of water without damage to the environment. We oppose using water as a carrier of waste.

We recommend that agricultural policy mandate installation of drip irrigation to conserve 60% of their current water use and improve yields while protecting soil from salinization.

We recommend that industry adopt a zero emissions policy requiring treatment and recycling of the waste stream to prevent pollution from entering the air and waterways.

We oppose ground and surface water pollution from toxic rain, soil erosion, agricultural runoff, draining of marshes and channelization, municipal waste water, landfills for municipal or toxic waste, dumps for radioactive waste, deep well injection of hazardous waste, depletion of aquifers, or any other degradation of water.

We seek protection for the fragile interfaces between water and land: the coastal zone including estuaries, coral reefs and the outer continental shelf, as well as wetlands.

When dams are necessary for small hydroelectric power generation, flood prevention, or water storage, provision must be made for fish and silt to get through. People affected by dam building must be consulted, compensated, and given a share in the benefits. We oppose large hydroelectric facilities, which damage ecosystems and people.

2. Opposing privatization
Water is a fundamental human right and a public trust to be guarded by all levels of government; therefore, it should not be commodified, privatized or traded for commercial purposes. These rights must be enshrined at all levels. In particular, an international treaty must ensure all people on Earth have a right to water regardless of ability to pay, and all beings have a right to water.

We oppose use of bottled water, because it promotes privatization and contributes huge amounts of waste plastic to the natural environment and landfills; bottled water is not as regulated as tap water and is often less safe.

3. Other Policies
We are already seeing increased frequency and severity of storms, droughts, floods, rising oceans, and desertification. The burning of fossil fuels is the major cause of climate change. The most vulnerable are impoverished and indigenous peoples. We support developing renewable energies such as solar, wind, biomass and small hydro, in order to protect the natural water cycle. Fossil fuels such as coal and oil and all their byproducts are a major source of water pollution.

We should consider the present importation of water as a carrying capacity indicator of the whole watershed. Other indicators include: inches of rainfall (potential catchments), groundwater, and surface water.

Water is best protected by local communities and citizens who must be respected as equal partners with water managing entities in the protection, provision, and regulation of water. Peoples of the earth are the only vehicle to promote earth democracy and save water.

In 1986 and 1988 Water Committee meetings, we had talked about the many problems occurring worldwide with water. I knew that I could not continue that way.

When the Water Committee met at the fourth Continental Bioregional Congress in 1990 on the Gulf of Maine it was agreed that we should give thanks to the Water. The morning the plenary session was to open; the Water Committee met on the banks of Lake Cobboseecontee and gave thanks to the water. The group joined the plenary session, bringing with us the purity and strength of purpose that we received from the water. The resolution from the water committee for that Congress was

The Water
has given and given.
Now it is time
to give thanks
to the Water.

When the Water Committee met on the Guadalupe River in the Hill Country of Texas at the 5th Turtle Island Bioregional Gathering each person told about their water work. We then sat in silence in the circle as it rained for about 4 minutes, the same amount of time each person had spoken. It was also at that Congress that in a particularly moving session, where each person was speaking from her heart, it rained lightly indoors. Another acknowledgement from the water.

In 1996, at the first Bioregional Gathering of the Americas, held in Tepozlan there was a good exchange of Water Information. It covered a wide range of experiences. One particular story was of the Sherpa’s who guide mountain climbers in the Himalayas and their ability to control weather.

Once again, it was remembered and noted that all forms of Water, in the ground, on the land, and in the air are connected. It is a closed system. There is no new Water. Water speaks a universal language of oneness and sustains all life.

In Eureka Springs, we began to meet at the Springs on a regular basis. At our www.planetaryhealer.net website we invited others to join us in a project to give thanks to the water bimonthly at the New and Full Moons. We wrote that our monthly 5 minute meditations of love, appreciation and gratitude, while asking the water to carry our prayers and to wash away illusions of separation could be done individually or in groups.

These thoughts for the Springs along with a Springs Committee of the Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission that is currently prioritizing critical Spring Recharge Areas is making a difference to heal the Healing Springs

I want to take this opportunity to also mention our www.nationalwatercenter.org and www.bioregionalcongress.org website. I hope that we will be able to stay in contact. Also, I would like to take this opportunity to let you know that there will be bioregional presentations at Espejo de Agua on Saturday.

Let’s give thanks to the water every time we drink and use it.

We are water-borne creatures; all life still begins from the water. Water is life.

Monday, May 01, 2006

News Article: We All Live Upstream

Jun 8, 2003
Eureka Springs Woman an Advocate for Clean Water
By Bettina Lehovec
The Morning News

Water. Most Americans take this basic need for granted, assuming all they want will be available at the turn of a tap. Eureka Springs resident Barbara Harmony thinks differently. She knows clean water is a finite resource, one that is dwindling as pollution and world population swells. The longtime environmentalist has dedicated her life to water -- to helping people recognize the responsibility they share in preserving the precious substance."We all live upstream," Harmony wrote in the forward to the revised environmental classic "We All Live Downstream." The book was first published in1986 by The National Water Center, a Eureka Springs-based organization she helped start.

Harmony traveled to Kyoto, Japan, in March for the 3rd World Water Forum. She joined 24,000 people from 182 countries at the conference, which addressed how to bring safe drinking water and sanitation to people around the globe.Harmony and traveling companion Hopi spokeswoman Marilyn Harris Tewa joined the Indigenous Peoples Forum to study ways water and culture are interrelated and how to safeguard traditional water supplies while respecting tribal ways.

"The indigenous perspective is that water is essential to life," said Harmony, who has made that simple fact the touchstone of her 60 years. The corporate perspective views water as a commodity, she explained, something to be traded or sold for profit. The privatization of water -- a growing practice in many cash-poor countries such as India -- depletes water supplies from rural farmers who need it so that multi-national corporations can profit.A hydro-electric dam in New Delhi, India, drains three counties of their water supply, for example. Damming the Ganges River has caused Bangladesh to suffer seasonal droughts and floods.

"It's one story after another," Harmony said sadly.Dedicated to ChangeHarmony founded The National Water Center in 1979 to advocate against a sewage treatment plant proposed for the creek below Lake Leatherwood Dam in Eureka Springs.

She had plenty of experience in community activism, working as a health and education organizer and against racism, nuclear power and the Vietnam War. She picketed the Woolworth's lunch counter in her native New Jersey to protest racial segregation in the South when she was a high school student in 1959. Two years later, she presented Martin Luther King Jr. with $1,000 she had raised.She was a member of civil rights group Project Understanding and A Committee For A Sane Nuclear Policy around the same time.

"I never thought things were satisfactory," she said, contemplating the factors that led her into community activism. In her parents' words, she had "a streak" that wouldn't allow her to ignore social issues and settle complacently down.The proposed sewage treatment plant was defeated. Harmony decided to keep the center going as a way to spread information about environmentally low-impact alternatives such as composting toilets.

She and co-founderJacqueline Froelich published a quarterly journal and another book: "Aqua Terra: MetaEcology & Culture."A current Water Center project, One Clean Spring, aims to reconstitute one of the city's 66 springs, returning it to a pristine and free-flowing state.

The changes needed to purify Magnetic Spring, on what is commonly called Passion Play Road, must come largely from private landowners upstream from the spring, Harmony said. If homeowners adapt their landscaping techniques to slow the flow of rainwater, run-off and erosion will turn into water absorption.

Such simple solutions are attainable if enough people shift their awareness enough to recognize the need, Harmony said. This approach appears to be the basis of her work: Changing the world doesn't have to be complicated. Everyone can play a part, one small decision at a time.Susan Lourne, director of the Eureka Springs Parks & Recreation Department, works with Harmony on the One Clean Spring project. They also teamed on a water quality workshop in February, hosted by the Community Development Partnership of Western Carroll County, The National Water Center and several other organizations.

Lourne said Harmony brings an acceptance of others to her community work that builds bridges, not walls."At the risk of sounding corny, she brings harmony," Lourne said. "Her modus operandi is very organic. What you get is this lovely movement toward the goal without any of the charged dynamics that often occur (in community activism.)"It's an unusual gift. She's accepted in turn. Barbara is very much loved in her community." Harmony, a gentle, soft-spoken woman with a generous laugh, is also known for her other interests, which include astrology and Re-evaluation Counseling.

Harmony has taught the peer-counseling technique since 1990 and has been an astrologer for 35 years.She has traveled extensively, many of her trips paid for by sponsors who wish to remain anonymous."They believe in what I do," Harmony said simply.

She was a delegate to the International Women's' Conference in Beijing in 1995, the International Feng Shui Conference in Prague in 1998 and a Feng Shui workshop in Sweden in 1999. She gave a talk on water ecology at the1994 American Society of Landscape Architects Convention in San Antonio, Texas,and participated in the first International Women's' Leadership Conference at Harvard in 1997.She attended the Global Assembly of Women and the Environment in Miami in 1993 and started the Eco-Feminist Task Force of the National Women's Studies Association in the 1980s. Other countries visited include Israel, India, Bolivia and Peru.

Harmony's involvement with the 1980s Bioregional movement, which builds coalitions based on geographical regions rather than political boundaries, has led her to conferences in British Columbia, Mexico, Texas and Kentucky.Harmony is a member of the Ozark Area Community Congress, the Continental Bioregional Congress and the Green Party, formerly the Greens Coordinating Council.Purposeful SimplicityHarmony adopted her philosophy of "purposeful simplicity" in 1974.

She was working for the city of Hoboken, N.J., and grew tired of the urban sprawl."I didn't want to leave the house because I didn't want to give up my parking space," she said with a laugh. She packed what belongings would fit into a Volkswagen convertible and drove southwest, searching for a simpler way of life. A friend's wedding brought her to Northwest Arkansas, where Harmony remained.

She lives in a small house north of Eureka Springs that she and her former husband rebuilt in 1978. There Harmony raised her son, Ben Hovland, now 25.Echoes of the past overlap the present in Harmony's simple one-bedroom home. The walls are crowded with art collected through many years. Portraits of Harmony done by a friend show younger versions of the smiling, red-headed woman. The brick patio outside her back door was put in by children in her son's long-ago play group.The charm of Harmony's home is immediately clear.

A string of 1,000 origami cranes, made by a Japanese friend, heralds her commitment to peace. French doors bring the outside in. A handsome rooster stalks insects in the lush, green yard.Harmony's commitment to the environment isn't as obvious until she shows a visitor around. A small utility closet houses her composting toilet, the only indoor toilet facility Harmony has. She sends visitors down a moss path to the outhouse.She bathes in water pumped from her 1,500-gallon cistern, the water collected from rain water on the roof. A back-up cistern holds 5,000 gallons. A wood-burning stove heats the house in cold weather. Harmony's clothes are mostly hand-me-downs. "Some people say they see a different possibility when they come here," Harmony said about her simple life. She described her life's purpose as encouraging people to live in an aware manner in the midst of a non-thinking, consumer society.

"Barbara is so brave in the way she embraces higher-minded principles in her everyday life," said longtime friend and neighbor Poco Carter. Although some people might scoff at Harmony's idealistic vision, there is no arguing with the concrete form her activism takes in the world, Carter said. "If you look at the reality -- at the world conferences she's attended, at the meetings with people, discussing ideas -- it's pretty profound, the work that she's actually accomplishing."Sometimes Carter wakes in the night and looks toward Harmony's home, where a light burns into the wee morning hours. She knows her friend is at her computer, working on issues that impact the globe."She's devoted her life to this," Carter said. "She's a lighthouse for me."