Public-participation, Community Art Project Tells a Thousand Stories to Make the Connecticut River Cleaner and Greener

PWPW (22)The Connecticut River Watershed Council is working with River of Words Along the Connecticut River, and Art for Water to gather personal narratives about New England’s longest river through the Stream of Conscience art project. Using visual questioning strategies, we engage the public in a dialogue about their relationship to the Connecticut River and what the river means to them, their communities, and their families.

As owners of our riveClass of 2018 - 5 hydro dam relicensing maprs, citizens have a say in how hydroelectric facilities will be operated, how negative impacts on the river can be improved, and how renewable energy be made more sustainable. In the fall of 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission began the relicensing for five hydroelectric facilities in northern Massachusetts and southern Vermont that produce over 30% of hydropower generation in New England and affect more than 175 miles of the Connecticut River from north of Hanover, New Hampshire to the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. The relicensing includes dams at Wilder, Bellows Falls and Vernon in Vermont, Turners Falls Dam and the Northfield Mountain Pump Storage Project in northern Massachusetts. With each license lasting 30 to 40 years, decisions made in 2018 have an impact over a generation.

POW POW ROW Stream of Conscience 300dpiThe Stream of Conscience, a monumental, community-created art installation, is a conduit for providing input to the State and Federal government as they make decisions about how these dams will operate over the next 30 to 40 years. The Stream is made of torn pieces of cover-weight paper on which participants write their aspirations, thoughts, and feelings about their river. The individual pieces of paper with participant’s river stories are then used to build a site-specific art installation of a river, which will be created at the culmination of the project. We provide all the materials and the completed paper fragments belong to the Stream of Conscience project. Individual voices will join hundreds of others of all ages to have a direct influence on state and federal decision makers.

We can bring this FREE program to your organization or group and provide an engaging presentation that can be made to groups ranging in size from a dozen to over 100. The event works well for a wide range of ages and interests and lasts approximately 1.5 hours.

This project provides an exciting opportunity to engage civically and creatively in a policy-making process that builds community, nurtures our sense of ownership, and provides an outlet for our voices to be heard.For more information, please contact Colleen Bent at 413-772-2020 ext.206 or

This program is supported by a generous grant from the Putnam Foundation.