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The Water Tower Virtual Book Club: “Drifting into Darien”

Jul 31, 2020

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On Tuesday night, water professionals virtually attended The Water Tower book club to discuss “Drifting into Darien: A Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River” by Georgia native, Janisse Ray.

“The data and the science are powerful but so are the stories,” said the naturalist and activist regarding writing during the virtual meeting on July 28, 2020.

During the first half of the book club, Ray was present to discuss her inspirations for writing and to field questions from those in attendance and from guest moderator and Division Director of Operations and Technical Services at the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources, Jennifer Suttles.

Ray said she writes stories to change hearts.

“You would expect me to say to change people's minds, because you think that if you throw enough statistics at somebody, if you throw enough Bible verses, if you throw enough quotes by Gandhi, that you will get somebody to change,” she said. “But none of that works, what works is that you have to shoot the arrow of love into the heart of somebody else. And a really powerful enduring amazing creative inspiring way to do that is through writing.”

She recommends that everyone should write, and if you need help getting started, follow her lead and write about your passions.

“If you're obsessed about the subject, I'm telling you that passion will come through, and other people will see as well,” Ray said.

Which is why she writes about the natural world, and its greatest threat – the power of humanity.

“We keep remaking natural landscapes into industrial landscapes,” Ray said. “And that means we take forests, and we make pine plantations out of them. And then we cut those down and we make fields, and we make bigger and bigger fields, and those fields are being sprayed with Roundup.”

Ray said those in the water industry are a great ally to the environment and she thanked the water heroes in attendance.

“I so much appreciate your daily labors on behalf of all wildness, and all humans, all life on Earth, so thank you,” she said.

And we at the Water Tower are thankful for Ray spending time with us on Tuesday.

“We loved having Janisse Ray join us on Tuesday” said Kristan VandenHeuvel, Strategic Director of Research and Engagement at The Water Tower. “Her passion surrounding environmental justice and her writing style inspired many of our book club members.”

Our next book club will be in September.

The Water Tower is a new breed of innovation center providing answers to a multitude of complex challenges facing the water industry through an integrated approach to applied research, technology innovation, workforce development, and stakeholder engagement. With its mission to be a thriving ecosystem of water innovation fueled by imagination, informed by research, and powered by pioneers, The Water Tower is especially invested in helping utilities devise strategies to benefit from digital advancements in water supply and quality. For more information visit


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