Pamela Ferris-Olson has always been passionate about water.
She’s lived on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts for most of her life, has worked with marine mammals and has nurtured a longtime fascination with the blue stuff, the liquid combination of hydrogen and oxygen molecules that is vital to all forms of life on Earth.
Recently, Ferris-Olson, a freelance writer and journalist who moved to southern Maine in 2016 after a stint in the midwest, decided to ask women to share all kinds of stories about water. She’s doing so through her Women Mind the Water Digital Stories Project, a new, Maine-based non-profit arts and humanities project.
“I’m interested in both the experiences of women and in celebrating Maine’s natural resource,” she said this week. “There are many people who are interested in conservation, and talk about the warming of the Gulf of Maine, or about plastic pollution, or about oil pollution. People are burned out by that. Instead, I want to celebrate water.”
She really means it, too. Whether the stories are about ice fishing, being out in the rain on a hot day or the taste of water after finishing a marathon, they are all welcome.
“I want to encourage women and girls across Maine to have fun with it — snow or ice, fresh or salt, any kind of water. I want a diverse group of voices, to hear the different ways that different types of people resonate with water,” Ferris-Olson said.
“I think that most people use water everyday, whether they’re washing their laundry, taking a shower or brewing a cup of coffee, and they never think about how amazing it is for us to use that water,” she said this week.
And her project is as simple as it is quirky. Ferris-Olson would like all kinds of women and girls to create a short (no more than three-minute long) digital story by using a cell phone. Submission guidelines and examples are available at her project’s Facebook page or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submitted stories from Maine women will be published in a specially-designated site on the Maine Memory Network, a project of the Maine Historical Society, and stories from women outside the state of Maine will be shared at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street’s online story collection.
Ferris-Olson said she decided to focus on women’s water stories for a couple of reasons.
“Women have long been stewards of natural resources and they often don’t get credit. I want to give the platform to women to share their experiences,” she said. “And in the last few months, women’s voices have been empowered. It’s a good time to continue celebrating women and what they have to say.”
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