We recognize we are very privileged through many layers, we are being educated at a university and we have the ability to leave if we wanted to, we recognize this is other people’s reality and they do not have the option to quit. Most of all, we come from places with running water, a huge privilege.
The more money you have the more water you use, there is a direct correlation between wealth and water use. If we are the ones using the most resources, then we are the ones who need to learn how to use less. If privileged people won’t change their water usage, then inequalities won’t change. Drylab is a simulation of the work that privileged folks ought to be doing: experiencing water scarcity and sustainable living, phenomena which we are currently free to dismiss. We also hope to bring this information not to people who already live in scarcity, but to other privileged people who are wasteful with their water and have never had to experience scarcity or consider the ramifications of their over consumption. We hope to use our privilege and platform that we have created to bring awareness to these issues.
As a privileged society, our lifestyles are problematic because they are unsustainable. We are considered to be of a “higher standards of living,” when in reality, these supposed higher standards of living do not bring us happiness. It is the old ways, the resourceful ways and the indigenous ways that are now solutions which we must revert to in order to navigate this scarcity. It is going to take humility on both sides, the ones that were wrong and the ones that were wronged so that we can work together and learn from each other and relearn the indigenous sustainable ways. This is also going to take privileged people giving up some of their privileges, such as not having showers every day or green lawns.
We are practicing empathy, not sympathy, putting our bodies on the line to better understand other people’s reality. We are not doing this for a noble cause but an educational one. Specifically, we intend to convey the overtones of how unsustainable the current paradigm is. The elements of Drylab will soon be everybody’s reality, but it is already some people’s current reality. In the state of Arizona, where Arizona State University is located there are people on the Navajo and Hopi reservations who don’t have running water. Even in Phoenix, we have water insecurity, and this is the case for much of the Southwest. Our imaginative storyline takes place only six years in the future because that is how close we to this reality. The privatization of water in our storyline is already happening, in Maricopa County, Nestle™ is opening its second plastic water bottling plant in the desert, second to California, where severe scarcity is not unfamiliar. We also bring awareness to our viewer’s issues like the Cadiz aquifer, where a rich private businessman intends to sell the desert’s water to the thirsty cities of Southern California, drying up the communities and ecosystems in the Mojave desert. These are just a few examples of how current our current behaviors are putting us on a trajectory that will place us at Drylab in 2023. Through doing this project we are creating awareness for our own water usage and are a proxy for other people’s awareness of their water usage. We are already not looking forward to flushing toilets and planning to save greywater from dishes; we are more conscious and more willing after our experience.
This is not just an exercise on eating only local food (no coffee, chocolate, sugar, tropical fruits like bananas), and eating water wise food (vegan, gluten free and no rice), but also a huge exercise in community building, learning how to not be individualistic and how to work together. Climate change brings crisis to communities, within this capitalist economy we have been socialized to be individualistic. We do not even know our neighbors, when droughts hit how will we know if they need water or help? This project is trying to teach us how to work together something this society forgot how to do. We have had to learn how to be mindful with each other, to be kind to each other, and to embrace each other’s needs as our own.