Go Deeper

Interview with Ellen Schultz, WetLand Collaborator from Fairmount Water Works

Posted August 8th, 2014
The Fairmount Water Works Center

Fairmount Water Works

The WetLand project, a collaboration between FringeArts and the artist Mary Mattingly, is set to open on August 15th. In addition to providing a living space for Mattingly and a rotating cast of artists-in-residence, and in addition to the system of gardens, solar panels, chickens, and bees, the WetLand barge will serve as a performance and community space for a wide range of events over the next six weeks.
As part of this event cycle, Fairmount Water Works will be hosting a series of family-friendly workshops about water management. Each Monday, the workshops will focus on a different water-related lesson, including water filtration, purification, and water use with plants.
Ellen Schultz, the Education and Outreach Coordinator at Fairmount Water Works, answers a few questions below about the intersections between nature and the city.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the workshops that the Fairmount Water Works will be leading on WetLand?

My first hope is that people come away with a new understanding (appreciation) for their good, safe clean reliable tap water and all that goes into delivering that potable glass of water.

How do you see the values of WetLand interacting with those of Fairmount Water Works?

At the Fairmount Water Works, as the watershed education center of the Philadelphia Water Deparment, we want all who visit us to understand the history of the water supply system, the present challenges facing our watershed, and the future solutions to keeping our source water clean.

Why are you passionate about water and land use? What is the most meaningful to you about this work?

I think this is the fundamental point of connection between people – we need water to live, we enjoy clean water as a big part of our leisure time, and it provides a certain kind of well-being to all our lives.  How we behave on the land is inextricably linked to insuring the quality of our waterways and the safety of our drinking water supply

What do you hope WetLand and the Fairmount Water Works will accomplish?

Stop and make people think about water as a finite resource and what we can do as individuals and collectively to play a role in protecting that resource.

If you could construct a natural space in an urban setting, much like WetLand, what would it look like?

I would love to see more green space like rain gardens explained (or interpreted). Perhaps, too, one day we can show how the Water Works functioned as an industrial site by recreating the forebay from the river to the building.

Do you feel that there is a tension between nature and the city? How can we navigate that tension?

I don’t think I would describe it as tension (except when nature runs wild), but more like a symbiotic relationship – both feed each other and enhance our quality of life.

Thanks Ellen!

The Fairmount Water Works Center workshops on WetLand will take place on August 18th, August 25th, September 8th, and September 15th from 3 PM to 5 PM. Workshops will be approximately 20 minutes long and will start at 3pm, 3:30pm, 4pm, and 4:30pm.

Independence Seaport Museum Pier
211 South Columbus Blvd (at Dock St)
Aug 15­–Sept 21, 10:00am–5:00pm (ongoing)
More information:

– Abby Holtzman