HighWaterLine began with curiosity, Eve’s curiosity about what climate change would do to her own city – New York. She came across The Metro East Coast Assessment, a report that examined the expected changes in New York City’s coastline due to climate change. The report talked repeatedly about how coastal areas within ten feet above sea level, an area historically expected to flood once every hundred years, would become inundated by flooding and storm surge as frequently as once every 4 years by the 2080’s. She decided that while looking at a map gave some understanding of this data, walking that line, and in fact marking that line would be a very different experience.
Marking a Line
In 2007, the HighWaterLine project was born. With blue chalk and a sports field marker, Eve drew the 10-foot above sea level line over 70 miles of coastline, along the way having conversations with people she encountered. The project lasted six months and the conversations were about climate change – what did people know, what had they experienced to date, what role could we all play in making positive strides towards increased sustainability and building resilience locally. Along the way she passed out Action Guides, which included steps that people could take to mitigate climate change in personal and community aspects of their lives, as well as methods for engaging with the greater community working on climate change.
Following the initial HighWaterLine | NYC, Eve was invited to reproduce the project in other communities. Knowing the importance of having the project enacted by local residents, she began designing methods for other communities to re-enact the project independently.
In the summer of 2012, Heidi Quante, an interdisciplinary human rights & environmental artist, approached Eve about using her artwork as a new community organizing initiative. The idea was to bring the HighWaterLine to other communities vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding, starting with Miami and the UK, and amplify the original artwork with original community trainings and workshops. In 2013 with generous support from the Compton Foundation, Invoking the Pause, The Kresge Foundation, The Miami Foundation, The Whitman Institute, and 11th Hour Project, Heidi moved to Miami to collaborate with diverse communities. She led a series of original workshops over the course of 4 months. In this expanded iteration of the HighWaterLine, co-led by Miami residents Marta Viciedo and Irvans Augustin, the people of Miami then demarcated 26 miles of potential future level rise throughout the diverse neighborhoods of Miami over the course of three days. (See more at HighWaterLine | Miami).
This new implementation of the HighWaterLine then traveled to the United Kingdom, where U.K. Coordinator Isobel Tarr (assisted by Anna Wilson) actively engaged the people of Bristol via workshops – to discuss how climate change would impact their beloved community. Then with support from Arts Council England and the LUSH Foundation, the people of Bristol realized their own HighWaterLine by demarcating 32 miles of potential flooding in the streets of Bristol over a period of 12 days. (See more at HighWaterLine | Bristol).
Additionally, HighWaterLine | Delray Beach was created with a local team of organizers and artists in consultation with Heidi and Eve.