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, anxieties, and passions of the people, from all backgrounds and beliefs, united by one common thread—their love for the land.

We spent a year listening to the residents and stakeholders of the watersheds, getting to know the community, feeling out their needs and offers. We are now in the second phase of the project; we’re producing public art events and projects with local artists as facilitators of storytelling and connection building.

Jenny Lee Fowler is known for intricate cut-outs made of paper, bark, leaf, and other materials. She is hosting Portraits and Stories in several locations, creating profile portraits and recording stories.


Will Lytle is the Catskill Mountains personified, being on the cutting edge of the millennial culture while being as close to nature as one can be—his house in the woods had no walls for one summer. We are in the planning and early implementation stage for his mural series project. He will be creating murals depicting Little Beaver Kill, an actual stream that runs near Woodstock.


Chris Victor is an enigmatic artist whose work involves obsessive processes, drawing endless inspiration in observing the natural world and it’s changing elements. He will represent the transition between the city and the Catskills, nature and culture, history and present.

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 planned and operated by Forge Collective, an alliance of creators who produce community-based art projects.

Catskill Waters is sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions for the purposes of Catskill Waters are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Catskill Waters is made possible in part 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, and Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program, a project of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County and the Ulster County Soil & Water Conservation District, funded by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.