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.
For each of us, there is the goal of leaving with more knowledge of cooperative living and an awareness of resource usage. There are no markers for success, we are interested in the knowledge gained from the lived experience. We are also hoping to create a framework that scientists can create a sustainable model from, and an awareness of the necessity of group participation and cooperation. One of the project designers had no intention of doing a research experiment rather to use it as a form of science communication tools, and to understand the difficulties associated with cooperative local systems.
Some of us know how to sprout and grow seeds and grains. We are experimenting with different varieties that are water-wise.
We are a group composed solely of women, so we discussed water allocation and water for personal hygiene comes out of our own water amounts. We are also willing to discuss variations in water allocation should the need arise.
We shop at a local market where farmers gather. We are also cooking our own food and depending on it not to be contaminated. We are aware of issues that might arise with certain food products, but we must take that risk and trust those who supply us with the food.
We haven’t found any food and water available from local plants, though that is something we are looking for. Due to the scarcity of resources and the remoteness of the area, that would be useful in our current social environment.
When we arrived to the motel, Severin left behind several resources for us, including Ostrom’s design principles for sustaining the commons. We are also being very intentional about being cooperative, checking in often with each other so that we do not create conflict between each other.
Yes, we have a first aid kit and we have people knowledgeable about natural remedies, but not indigenous medicine. Resources are limited; however we have some amount of homeopathic supplies including garlic and ginger
We do not have internet or cell phone service on site, to access cell service it requires a ten-minute bicycle ride and even then, the service is spotty. We do have a car, but with limited funds for gas, so we only leave to get groceries.
We each have three gallons to use for personal use, as of right now we have had surplus each day. We have 8 gallons of communal water should someone not have enough. We are aware of how much energy we are using and trying to conserve it. For example, if one of us goes on a hike one day they will lay low the next day to conserve energy. This is not only because of the water but because of the low water index diet and heat.
Not yet, we would be honored if people would be willing to reach out but we have not come across anyone yet, as we are not in contact with society at all. We are very interested in learning about the ecology of the land and the people who live here and how they are able to.
This is not a documentary, but clips are being recorded for a short film and for the website and social media.
We are doing our best at a low waste lifestyle, however toilet paper is being trashed instead of flushed because of the septic system. Much of our food is produce, reducing the plastic wrappers. We are also reusing plastic for art and projects.
We are actively documenting our process and posting on the website and through social media. We are also working to help in maintenance of the facility, as it has been abandoned. We are creating art to barter with the locals.
Yes, we are using fans and have one AC unit in the main room and another evaporative cooler.
Since we have been here nights have been around mid 60 to 70 F (~14 C), and day time around 80-100 F (~26 C), next week the high is at 106 F.