Conversation with Kate Pierson and Lili Cunningham

Kate Pierson bought a house right on a pond in Bearsville around 25 years ago. It was a quiet retreat where she could take a break from her busy life as a member of the B52s, but soon became her full-time residence. The house now belongs to Lili Cunningham, a busy broadcast media professional, who bought the house with her late partner and artist/writer Stuart Cudlitz. She dreams of the day when she can move there full time, but admits there are obstacles and drawbacks. Read more “Conversation with Kate Pierson and Lili Cunningham”

Stream Management

Don’t Use the Chemicals!

NYSDEC (New York State Department of Conservation) has tons of useful information on their website. This video showing the importance of using zero phosphorus fertilizer on your lawn is timely for the spring gardening season.

Of course, using compost instead of fertilizer, reducing lawn by adding beds, or replacing grass lawn with herb or edible ground cover is always a better choice.


Accepting Tax-deductible Contributions

Catskill Waters is sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)3 organization that helps artists and arts organizations raise money from charitable sources. We can also accept contributions from individuals and businesses, all tax-deductible to extent permitted by law.

We’re currently planning multiple giving-levels with exciting and innovative incentives. We view fundraising as extension of our art project, not separate from it, and opportunity to build our network. Stay tuned!

If you are itching to make a donation now, you’ll be able to choose your gift as soon as we announce the options.

Make Donation

Sight and Sound

MLK Weekend

This year, ice skating was particularly good for a long time. MLK weekend was one of the best.

Project Journal

What is Catskill Waters?

Stewardship of New York City Water

Deep in the heart of the Catskill mountains, the sweet drinking water for 8.5 million people begins its journey to New York City. Catskill Waters is a portal to the community where this water’s first stewardship takes place. It offers a tender look at the joys, sorrows, passions, and anxieties of people of all beliefs and backgrounds, united by one common thread—their love for the land.

We begin by listening, recording, collecting, and sharing stories. Then a handful of storytellers will be selected and matched with artists. The storyteller/artist pairs will spend time getting to know each other, collaborating on the creation of artworks over several months, embodying the stories of the stewardship, both of the land and of the collaborative process. The completed works will journey down south, along with rich documentation and the trove of stories, making stops in the Hudson Valley and beyond, arriving in New York City for the final exhibition.

Changing Landscape—of Nature and Human

The increasingly dramatic weather is not the only change impacting the Catskills. Changes in our human landscape are also picking up a pace in recent years. Catskill Waters navigates through this delicate terrain, creating a supportive platform for people to share their thoughts and knowledge. At a time when our world seems to be getting further divided, Catskill Waters bridges this divide by bringing our focus down to the earth with questions spanning a wide range of topics. How does one build good soil? How fast do beavers build their dams? How can you be sure ice is thick enough to skate on? What is it like to  hike a mountain in your backyard? How challenging is it to make a living? How do full-timers and weekenders feel about each other? How does it feel not to have high-speed internet?

Catskill Waters is a snapshot of America—rapidly changing but remaining constant, and feeling out the balance in between, trying best to adapt while protecting what is sacred.

Working like Water

Catskill Waters is a collaboration among many players—a governmental agency, non-profits, artists, and citizens—each shaping and affecting the project. Our organizing principle is to stay fluid and responsive to the needs and wants of the community while being committed to the quality and integrity of our shared experience. Like water, we flow through our land, reflecting what’s around us, and transforming the landscape if ever so incrementally.

There are many ways to participate in Catskill Waters: share your story, come to our events, join our network, or become a sponsor.


Catskill Waters is made possible with funds from Rondout Neversink Stream Program, a project of Sullivan County Soil & Water Conservation District funded by New York City Department of Environmental Protection.


Black and white wavy reflection of bare trees on water News

Information Sessions

You—the residents of the Catskills—are the first  stewards of drinking water for 8.5 million people as it begins its journey to New York City. Catskill Waters wants to hear your stories and gather your knowledge of stewardship. What do you love about your land? How does your land change through the seasons? What is your favorite memory? Read more “Information Sessions”

Stream Management

Amphibian Migration Alert!

As the temperature climbs above 40˚F and early spring weather brings in rain, we’ll see forest amphibians emerge from the soil and travel to their breeding pool, often crossing roads and pathways. Luckily for us in the Hudson Valley estuary watershed, there is a program designed to coordinate citizens’ effort with collecting data, mapping, and protecting amphibians in their treacherous journey. It is called Amphibian Migration and Road Crossing Project, part of a larger Hudson River Estuary Program supported by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Read more “Amphibian Migration Alert!”

Project Journal

How Catskill Waters was Created Out of a Failure

 Catskill Waters would not have happened if the previous public project by Keiko Sono, Catskill Waters’ director, was not derailed by one of the residents who protested the project.

The original proposal for Yankeetown Pond Project called for a long-term time-lapse production, following the seasonal and year-to-year transformation of Yankeetown Pond in Bearsville, by asking visitors and residents to take photos, and gathering them together to produce a video. Read more “How Catskill Waters was Created Out of a Failure”

Project Journal

Rondout Neversink Stream Program

Rondout Neversink Stream Management is our sponsoring organization. They take on engineering projects that prevent erosion and maintain water quality, as well as public outreach to spread information on good stream management practice.

Most of the time, the two merge together as it is impossible to separate people for the land. We humans project all kinds of emotions, values, and beliefs to the land, sometimes leading us to wrong decisions that harm the environment or sometimes ourselves. People at RNSP understand the importance and challenges of communication with the landowners. This is why they work with community educators and creators to build programs that go beyond the ordinary communication. This is why we are working on Catskill Waters together.

Photo of Kenny May, a caucasion man in 70s, sharing oral history of Yankeetown Pond Stories

Oral History of Yankeetown Pond: Interview with Kenny May

Real Life Huckleberry Finn

Kenny May is a life-long resident of Bearsville, New York. I met him through Wittenberg Sportsmen’s Club when I approached them about Yankeetown Pond Project, a precursor to Catskill Waters. I asked for their help in finding members who would contribute to the oral history of the pond. Read more “Oral History of Yankeetown Pond: Interview with Kenny May”