What’s our Story?

Change takes work. Information makes it easier. Stories make it fun.
Learning together how to work for clean water is a gift to our bodies and health, our land and sea, and the wellbeing of future generations.
But creating a clean water environment in cities that were designed long ago to ignore water, takes hard work. Changes in habits, in households, in supermarkets and political systems are what is needed. Governing water as if it is only a commodity for sale, leads to water’s mistreatment. Water that flows through rivers, oceans and the bodies of all, again and again, needs care — and a different story.

“Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations.” Ben Okri

Water Stories is a website that shares different stories of Cape Town’s water, designed to communicate the work of those who are endeavouring to restore life and health to oceans, rivers, aquifers, streams and vleis (note to non-Saffers: “vleis” is South Africanese for wetlands and lakes; the singular is vlei).
Highlighting the work of citizens, community organisations and scientists involved in water research and cleanups, Water Stories dives in to Cape Town’s water flows from a central map from where readers can find information and stories about Cape Town’s water spaces.

Water Stories uses open-source geographic information systems to link activists and organisations, sharing water-related research and narratives, and connecting the nearshore ocean, riverine and freshwater systems with the urban water cycle.

Our goal is to help Cape Town’s people to connect with the environment in a different way — to realise the environment is us.

Working for change in water governance as well as at the level of supermarkets, households and personal care, Water Stories shares a paradigm shift, endeavouring to change how we live with the water that makes its way through all of our bodies, our soil, food, rivers and the two oceans that meet in the Western Cape.

Water Stories is a co-creation between Mycelium Media Colab, an innovative collaborative media enterprise, and academics from Environmental Humanities South (EHS), a research centre in the Faculty of Humanities at UCT, the Environmental and Nanosciences Research Group in the Department of Chemisty at UWC and the Department of Chemistry, Bioscience and Environmental Technology at the University of Stavanger in Norway.
It is funded by SANOcean (a partnership of the South African National Research Foundation and the Norwegian Research Council, project 287516), a Mycelium Media Colab with Vanessa Farr, and the Andrew W Mellon Foundation grant to EHS at UCT.
River layer on Water Stories map imported from Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (FBIS), courtesy of the Freshwater Research Centre. Map Services by Kartoza, Data Copyright NGI.