How to Live with Water: The WMG Way

My personal fundraising goal is gettin’ there!  Can you help me reach $200 by the end of the year? I will send you a hand-written letter. Promise. Just give me your address.

Photo by Josh Schachter (

Photo by Josh Schachter (

A Love Letter

How to Live with Water: The WMG Way

Queridos amigos,

In years of dabbling in Western water issues, I haven’t met a worthier organization than the Watershed Management Group. Why the enthusiasm? WMG’s appeal extends far beyond the realm of water geeks. I believe that this organization is positioned at a nexus of social and environmental progress that will propel humanity out of our most dire fixes.

If urbanites – now the global majority – were to more fully participate in natural resource cycles, people would better understand what sustains us and would thus make wiser decisions, individually and together. People would be healthier and our communities more beautiful. This is exactly what WMG is achieving in Tucson and across the world.

Rainwater cisterns, stream meanders, neighborhood curb cuts, recycling wastewater back into the earth one backyard at a time: a few of the ways WMG brings modern life into a more natural alignment. Water systems stewardship shapes civilization, and vice versa. The WMG do-it-yourself approach to improving this relationship is a critical piece of how to thrive in an increasingly complex global puzzle.

The WMG trick is to help us help ourselves. Replacing pavement with native plants lessens the urban heat island effect. Backyard greywater installations and composting toilets replenish aquifers and save energy (since southern Arizona relies on CAP water pumped 300+ miles uphill by coal-fired power, it even curbs climate change!). Helping youth build their own schoolyard gardens fosters in them a sense of place. Collaborating with local artists inspires in us all a value for water… Best yet, the WMG staff, volunteers and neighborhood Co-Op members do it all with contagious commitment and a sense of humor. Please join me to sustain and multiply WMG’s work as a worldwide leader in sustainable community building!

Click here to join the honor roll of wonder:

With gratitude and best wishes for 2013,

Camila Thorndike
Treasurer & Past Chair, WMG Board of Directors

PS  I send pretty nice letters. There’s no minimum donation to receive one.  Well, ok, maybe $5 — a fancy latte’s worth of support.  Doable, right?  My pen’s ready…

COAL: The Musical … is creative community engagement for climate.

>> Can you conceive of a musical about the energy paradox of our times–-that begins when the curtains close?

>> Can you imagine together celebrating a way out of our climate mess–-into a real future for ourselves and all living communities?

>> Can you commit just few a hours a week to do what is needed?

Check out the below post with a brief video introduction my latest endeavor, COAL: The Musical.


COAL is a mythic coming-of-age story set in the present time. A boy, Olam, must reconcile his mining heritage, notions of manhood, and contemporary values with a deep-rooted love for the imperiled natural world, his home. Olam must decide what kind of man he will be.

Through his moral journey, we too are challenged to join the head and the heart, the analytical and emotional–in other words, to grow out of our consumptive adolescence into a mature society. No matter the audience, COAL is personal. Your family stars in this show.  COAL zeroes in on the central paradox of our times: that our gadgets, homes, transport and machines are fueled by poisons inking a tragic global sentencing down the fossil fuel storyline (every dig, move, and burn). This powerful, uplifting, and even funny story–yes, trust me!–is about how we are complicit and thus empowered to move forward together.

No, I wasn’t sure, either, how this story could fill a theater. But tears were running down my smiling face by the last pages of the script.  The music is snappy-catchy and the characters unforgettable.  And the story is just the beginning.  The Musical of COAL will serve to spark and boost individual and community ACTION in host towns, universities, cities and regions across the country.

The first staged reading of COAL takes place February 8, 2013 in Santa Fe, NM.  Let me know if you want to come!  Early 2014, COAL premiers in four host cities including San Francisco, CA–and from there hits the road.  Follow this blog for updates throughout our incredible journey.


This summer in Alaska I met COAL creator Molly Sturges of the non-profit organization Littleglobe. As she wrapped up her TEDx Talk I knew, sure as a lightning strike, that I needed to follow this woman. Over the past year+, Molly has delved into our moral-environmental climate crisis driven by fossil fuel use and emerged with COAL: The Musical. Since October 2012, I have been collaborating with the wonderful Adam Horowitz as a Community Engagement Strategist for COAL. In 2013 look forward to deeper work on this imaginative, invitational, and inter-generational project of immense importance. (An alliterative meld of the i’s I like best).  It is an honor to work creatively on what I believe is the biggest challenge and most beautiful opportunity you and I are faced with today.


STORY! It’s all about telling the right story: Who are we humans? What do we need? How can we do what is good? And it’s all about listening carefully to the response–so we can weave new stories together, for they create our lives just as surely as our bodies, bank accounts and blood.

As I’ve said before, I’m not the musical “type.” As a movement-builder, I see COAL as a vehicle for changemaking. To me, COAL is about using an optimistic, family-oriented, and authentically American art form to EXPAND and ACTIVATE the audience for climate action. In the production, local kids will be on stage asking the audience to step up their game–from caring to doing. This will ignite the fierce love of parents, grandparents, and communities for whom the climate crisis can no longer be distant.  Once seen for what it is–a personal problem–the reality of climate change will call forth moral strength to rectify our energy paradigm. The crisis is here, and so are rising heroes. COAL asks: How will you join them?

Solutions to climate chaos exist. The ignited will to activate them is not … yet. COAL is about lighting that fire under our collective behinds.

Vamanos ya, muchachos. El tiempo ya se acaba.


P.S. Contrary to the Indiegogo site’s funding bar, we actually came just a few $Ks short of the $12,000 goal. Thank you to all who contributed to realize this dream.  Your support goes far beyond the dollars — it fuels, grounds, and uplifts me more than anything in the world.