Overview / Significance

Water is life-sustaining and life-giving. We use it for cleansing, health, and play. Indigenous communities rightly refer to water as a relative, reminding us that we are deeply connected to water and should treat it with respect, care, and humility. As part of our Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus work, PolicyLink and the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy are attempting to better integrate creative strategies and culturally and spiritually rooted approaches to enhance and advance our work. It is in that spirit that we are collaborating with creatives and cultural organizers on an initiative this year (2021). We are excited to be partnering with hip hop artist Benny Starr, and cultural organizers Mika Gadsden and Nana Fofie Amina Bashir on a podcast series where we highlight the many voices and perspectives of our Caucus members, as well as a curriculum that lays out a vision and plan for moving from artistic expression to analysis to political education to public policy. We have also formed a Water x Arts and Culture workgroup within the Caucus made up of artists and creatives to advise and help move the work forward. The water equity arts and culture initiative was featured in the January 2023 issue of Public, a journal from Imagining America. We will update this page as new resources become available.


Cultural organizer and activist Mika Gadsden will lead discussions where we will highlight frontline community voices and discuss important water equity and climate resilience issues with experts and advocates. Each episode will consist of lyrics from A Water Album, broken down by Benny in “live liner notes” style, to engage guests in conversation around the pertinent topic and move the audience to action.

Check out our latest podcast episode:

A Water Album Curriculum

A Water Album Curriculum: Thoughtfully Leveraging Arts & Culture to Inform Policy. This resource pulls from Benny Starr’s experience as an artist navigating institutional spaces and lays out some principles and tips for how to thoughtfully engage artists in policy advocacy and equity work. We hope it can be useful for nonprofits looking to have an artist in residence or collaborate with an artist, or for artists and creatives to leverage as a tool when seeking partnerships with organizations.

Water x Arts and Culture Commissions

As part of our Water Equity x Arts & Culture work, PolicyLink commissioned three artists to produce artistic or cultural pieces around water equity and climate resilience. The goal of these commissions is to lift up and celebrate the history, land, water, spirituality, culture, and creativity of frontline environmental justice communities and their fight for water equity and climate resilience. We are excited to share with you the following art pieces: