• Grace Taylor Rae

Water Is the Currency of Life

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

Gertrude stood up in the basement of her church in Harlem. She gave the $50 she had in her purse, which she earned “from doing some people’s wash,” to help end world hunger.

“Money is just like water,” Gertrude said. “It flows through every life. It doesn’t belong to any of us. It belongs to all of us. Or none of us. I want you to know that this money that’s like water is a carrier,” said Gertrude. “That’s why we call it a currency. It’s a current. And as it flows through my life, I know it’s my job to pass it on where it will do the most good for the most folks.”

Everyone in the church stood up and followed Gertrude’s example, contributing what they had to raise funds for The Hunger Project, recounted Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, in her TEDx talk at UC Berkeley. “When [money] flows, it purifies, it cleanses, it makes things grow. When it’s held or hoarded, just like water, it’s toxic. Stagnant. It actually makes you sick.”

When we say Water is Life, we are talking about scientific fact. While we can’t drink money, all species need water to sustain themselves on Earth. Water is where life develops, just as matter is where energy congregates as mass.

Cells need water for its connective and dissolving properties, which allow substances to flow into and out of the cell membrane. As cells within a collective, we need money insofar as currency, like water, enables exchange. But only water is inherently valuable, while currency exists as a tool, a means to an end.

This, I believe we have forgotten.

Evolutionarily, wealth consolidation is rooted in our biological desire to store excess food for later use. Wealthy owners and investors are amassing more money than they and several generations after them can use within their lifetimes. When investments and property generate passive income, people develop a skewed, distorted relationship to currency, work and time.

When we create objects, agreements or systems because we believe them to be financially profitable, we bloat and inflame some among us with a falsely abstracted resource, while forcing others' labor for a falsely scarce resource.

Manufacturing and saturation of retail, secondhand and recycling markets is threatening human habitation of Earth. Plastics and toxic runoff (pesticides, radioactive compounds, acids, metals) from extractive industries and single-use products have shown us that all this labor we’ve thrust forward — all this economic stimulation and production — is actually not in our best interest.

Upholding capitalism means that ultimately, we each are are as protected as our most disrespected. But we are rejecting that self-sabotage.

In May 2019, 180 countries (not including the United States) agreed to treat plastic as hazardous waste.

By following recent legislative momentum banning plastic bags, styrofoam, and other hazardous items, we can galvanize support to elevate the Rights of Nature above increased privatization of ecosystems, resources, spaces and geographies.

Citizens in Toledo, Ohio recently passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, guaranteeing the body of water and its ecosystems the same legal rights as humans. New York State passed the Environmental Bill of Rights on April 30, 2019, which states that “each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”

Recognizing and honoring Rights of Nature supports rights movements including reparations, universal healthcare, and housing justice. When we acknowledge the violence inherent in owning life and what is needed to sustain it, we can move toward increasingly regenerative models of exchange.

We are shifting from beholding nature and others as property, to knowing ourselves interwoven within the function of all ecosystems.

My relationship to water is deepening as I work to co-organize Bodies of Water, a fundraiser with Weaving Worlds and WaterNow beginning on Sunday, May 19 in New York City.

Bodies of Water blends live music, performance and visual art by women artists with education on regenerative sustainability. Ticket sales benefit MAMA na DADA (Swahili for Mother and Sister), a women’s coalition based in Kenya that is building two water filtration systems and a water catchment system in Kunya, a village where the main water source, Lake Victoria, is contaminated with toxic waste and not safe to drink.

Chief Clara Soaring Hawk of the Deer Clan of the Ramapough Lenape Nation and Grandmother Carole Bubar-Blodgett will lead a water blessing. Carole is embarking on the 9th annual Water Is Life Walk, a month-long prayer journey starting this June, when she will walk from the Source of the Mahacanattuck (Hudson) River at Lake Tear of the Clouds in Keene, NY, to where it meets the sea.

Through Bodies of Water, I am reminded of what Lynne said at the end of her TEDx talk at Berkeley — what we appreciate, appreciates.

As I align my priorities and my time with clean water, I witness more abundance, ease and flow enter my life. My consciousness about currency has shifted. Before working with water, I rooted my sense of abundance in money. Now I root it in the Earth, and my connection to Her. I am using water more reverently and intentionally. I am tasting water more joyfully and with more gratitude. She is enough. She is all.

Please join us at Bodies of Water on Sunday, May 19 from 2–7 pm at Prime Produce in NYC.

The most foundational investments we can make as human beings are in bodily and planetary health. Water is essential to both, and we are very quickly realizing that it is our most intrinsically valuable currency.