Environmental artist Sonja Hinrichsen returns to the Yampa Valley in January

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We are the Water

Jan. 22: 6:30 to 8 p.m. at BWML

Belle Zars: What is Place-Based Education and Why is it Important

Sonja Hinrichsen: Environmental Art — A preview of Snow Drawings

Jan. 23: 6:30 p.m. at BWML

Geoff Blakeslee: The Future of Water on the Yampa

Wendy Pabich: author of Taking on Water

Jan. 24: 6:30 to 8 p.m. at BWML

An interpretive workshop with Sonja Hinrichsen: We are the Water: How to Behave Like a Drop of Water Flowing into the Yampa

Jan. 25: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Lake Catamount

We are the Water Community Performance Activity: Bring snowshoes

Jan. 26: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Possible continuation of snow drawings if unfinished on Jan. 25

— When environmental artist Sonja Hinrichsen returns to the Yampa Valley in January to create the latest installation in her local series of massive “snow drawings,” this one on the frozen snow-covered surface of Lake Catamount, it will be with the distinction of having an earlier piece in the series chosen for publication in a fine art calendar.

Hinrichsen’s 2012 drawing of spiral patterns tramped onto the snowy meadows of Rabbit Ears Pass with the help of dozens of local volunteers appears in the calendar by Amber Lotus Publishing, which has already shipped all of its copies to retailers.

You can find the image photographed from above at mymodernmet.com blog. The creators of the blog displayed the image as one of the 12 best examples of environmental art.

This year, Hinrichsen and her volunteers will tackle the challenge of tramping into the snow the major tributaries of the Yampa River, representing the entire basin in a linear metaphor for the river system that will be created in the snow crystals that are destined to actually feed the river come spring.

“Each volunteer will play the role of a drop of water,” organizer Betsy Blakeslee said. “Water is both part of nature and essential to our survival. And this will be an elegant representation of its importance.”

Hinrichsen’s visit next month will be part of the five-day “We are the Water” event, which will be held Jan. 22 to Jan. 26 as a fundraiser for the Legacy Education Fund. The fund, which is under the umbrella of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, has supported place-based education in public schools up and down the Yampa Valley. Often, the lesson plans took students into the field to carry out environmental restoration projects, for example.

Blakeslee said the original Yampa Valley Legacy Education Initiative was funded by a grant of $865,000 from the Annenberg Foundation in 1997 to establish place-based education in schools in Northwest Colorado. Those funds were used up by 2001.

“The original fundraiser for the Legacy Education Initiative was the Spirit Challenge, a walking/running event held by middle school students each spring,” Blakeslee said.

“We were running out of money, and I’ve been thinking about this for three years,” she said. “I decided to find a way to make a fundraiser happen.”

"We are the Water" is the result of that quest. Jennie Lay, adult programs coordinator for the Bud Werner Memorial Library, has taken on the organizational logistics. She has collected a distinguished schedule of speakers who are experts in the importance of place-based education, the future of the Yampa’s water supply and environmental art.

Hinrichsen, who lives in San Francisco, will lead an interpretive workshop entitled: “We are the Water: How to Behave Like a Drop of Water Flowing into the Yampa.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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