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July 28, 2021

Experience the wonders of Lenapehoking Watershed: a place for water, art and culture

Now through December at nature centers throughout the Delaware River watershed -- from the Poconos to the Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania

Outdoors Nature

Content sponsored by River Days Sponsorship Badge 2

Migration by Sarah Kavage.jpg Sarah Kavage/Lenapehoking~Watershed Project

“Migration” by Sarah Kavage at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, PA, was inspired by a bird in flight, and is one of 15 sculpture installations made of natural materials from the Delaware River watershed

Featuring sculptures, community gatherings, performances, and an innovative role-play card game that prompts outdoor fun, Lenapehoking~Watershed: a place for water, art and culture offers multiple opportunities for the public to relax, be inspired, play, and connect at the 23 outdoor nature spaces that form the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River (AWE).

Seattle-based artist Sarah Kavage has been immersed in the fields, wetlands and woods of the Delaware watershed region, building Water Spirit, an array of site-responsive sculpture installations created by using natural materials found in the local landscape. Water Spirit is supported by collaborations with community artists and thoughtful events rooted, literally and figuratively, in the green spaces and waterways known as Lenapehoking. “For me, the physical object is only a small part of what art is about. It is the place, its history, and human interactions that truly create it,” says Kavage.

Limited - Sarah Kavage15 Minutes/Alliance for Watershed Education

Sarah Kavage in her braided grasses, part of the Water Spirit series. Photo by 15 Minutes

Structures in Kavage's Water Spirit series made from locally-harvested invasive phragmites reeds have cropped up around the watershed, including Portal at Gateway Park in Camden, NJ, Migration at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Eastwick/Southwest Philadelphia PA, and Al Mudhif – A Confluence at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Roxborough/Northwest Philadelphia. All installations are built with help from community members who support the creative process and once complete, serve as focal points for special events and memorable photo opportunities. Fifteen installations will be built throughout the watershed to complete the Water Spirit project. Some are documented in this video.

Christina-Suncatcher_by_Sarah KavageSarah Kavage/Lenapehoking-Watershed

Lenapehoking~Watershed lead artist Sarah Kavage (second from left, in overalls) poses with local build team Adriana Amador Chacon, Breiner Garcia, and Priscilla Rios (named from L-R) in front of the sculpture Christina Suncatcher, shortly after they finished building it in June 2021.

In September 2021, visitors to all 23 of the Alliance for Watershed Education locations will receive free copies of Aqua Marooned!, a game that fosters a love of nature, is played outdoors, and is ridiculously fun. It was specially created for the Alliance member-sites by artist Adrienne Mackey and her company, Swim Pony—an experience design team known for developing innovative, immersive experiences of play for all ages. Aqua Marooned! consists of a deck of beautifully illustrated cards that tell a story of extraterrestrial explorers on a mission to learn all they can about the earth’s mysterious “watersphere.” Gaming missions for willing players range from silly and reflective to physical challenges including prompts to: "Find a dead thing and give it a heartfelt eulogy;” "Sit in silence and notice the sounds around you;" and "Race to the nearest body of water.”

Limited - Mudhif Installation, Schuylkill Center. Photo-Tina PlokarzTina Plokarz/Alliance for Watershed Education

Al Mudhif Installation, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

The overall project name, Lenapehoking~Watershed: a place for water, art and culture was adopted after consulting with citizens of local Lenni Lenape Nations. “Lenapehoking” is a place name that means “the land of the Lenape people, a name that pre-dates the current political boundaries of cities, townships, and states” says Priscilla Bell, a Philadelphia artist who is serving as a Community Liaison for the art project. Teresa Jaynes, the Art Project Director, adds: “In choosing this name, the AWE and art initiative teams felt that it could resonate on multiple levels and bring depth to the conversation about what it means to be part of a watershed, a place where we all share the same water and land.”

Al Mudhif, Schuylkill Center for Environmental EducationTina Plokarz/Alliance for Watershed Education

Al Mudhif, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.

Part of the mission of Lenapehoking~Watershed is to activate the watershed in the public’s imagination through art, education and playful engagement. The AWE centers, project artists and collaborators collectively acknowledge the Lenni Lenape and other Indigenous cultures' environmental stewardship as critical to the sustainability of the Delaware Valley’s surrounding ecosystems and the future of the planet we all call home.

Artist Misty Sol building Furrow at Bartram's GardenChristian Hayden/Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River

Artist Misty Sol building Furrow at Bartram's Garden.

As more programs and activities are being added weekly, the public is encouraged to visit the project online at, on Instagram and on Facebook.

Lead support for the Lenapehoking~Watershed is provided by the William Penn Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Barra Foundation, the Delaware Division for the Arts, the Joseph Robert Foundation, and the Velocity Fund.

The Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River is a regional initiative of 23 partnering environmental education centers located along waterways in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The Delaware River watershed is a 13,500-square mile system which provides clean drinking water for 13 million people. Through aligned communications, joint programming and shared best practices among the centers, the Alliance works toward inspiring a healthy Delaware River watershed with diverse communities and people empowered to sustain it. For updates about AWE activities, sign up for a newsletter, follow on Instagram and Facebook.