Sea Level Rise

HighWaterLine | Miami

9497365207_69dc47e33dMiami is the most climate vulnerable city in the United States primarily because:

  • The city was built at sea level.
  • Miami’s sole source of drinking water lies beneath the city in an aquifer, incredibly vulnerable to saltwater intrusion (when salt water seeps into fresh water).  In Florida, nearly 7 million people rely on this aquifer for their daily drinking water.

To learn more about Miami’s vulnerability please visit the Sea Level Rise Fact Sheet.

HighWaterLine collaborated with diverse Miami residents to use art to engage greater Miami in conversations about the aforementioned climate change impacts as well as solutions.

Diverse Miami residents created a public performance art piece the length of a marathon (26 miles) in which they demarcated houses, historic places and more, that will be underwater in Miami Beach and the City of Miami when 3 and 6 feet of sea level rise hits Miami. Residents handed off the chalker to one another to create these lines that literally connect the various neighborhoods.  This Miami art piece is based on data provided by Climate Central.

This large public performance piece took place November 13, 14 and 17, 2013. Please visit the HighWaterLine map to see the HighWaterLine routes as they unfolded as well as hear audio stories and see photos of participants. HighWaterLine| Miami is an ongoing, living project. The art reveal is one of many activities HighWaterLine | Miami participants are engaging in. Since August 2013, community members have participated in storytelling and solutions workshops as well as brainstorming sessions including defining climate resiliency in Miami.

Since the key to building a climate resilient community is engaging diverse members of the community, the initial group of HighWaterLine | Miami participants are expanding the project by engaging greater members of Miami’s community via the newly formed group Resilient Miami. They are planning additional creative public education projects.

Heidi Quante, coordinator of HighWaterLine, was quoted in the Miami New Times about one of the participants, Thorn Grafton, an architect and art deco preservation member whose grandfather was John S. Collins, after whom Miami Beach’s Collins Avenue is named:

“You have an older generation who basically helped make Miami Beach what is it today participating, as well as a younger first generation. You have people in Little Havana, who have a much different story from Thorn in Miami Beach, who might be hit by sea level rise because the river waters there will actually flow over faster than in other areas. And the beautiful thing about this project is that the line connects everybody.”

This webpage does not do justice to the variety of amazing participants and the active work they are doing to make Miami a climate resilient city.  Please visit this website in the coming months to learn more about the amazing ongoing work of HighWateLine | Miami.

Coordinator: Heidi Quante

Miami Co-Coordinator: Marta Viciedo

Via HighWaterLine.

New metaphors for sustainability: ‘art & grace’

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Continuing our series of New metaphors for sustainability, the ecological artist David Haley looks to the etymologies of two words.

The Sanskrit origin of the word ‘art’ is ‘rta‘. Originally appearing in the Rig Vedas, rta is still used in contemporary Hindi to mean the dynamic process by which the whole cosmos continues to be created, virtuously.

This noun/adjective also means the right-handedness, righteousness, and the right way of doing things. Here we find remnants of that meaning in modern English in terms like ‘the art of gardening’, ‘the art of football, ‘the art of archery’ and ‘the art of war’.

Rta conjugates into the verb ‘ritu‘ (ritual) that refers to the correct order or sequence of rta (i.e. the cyclical pattern of the seasons, or the progression from seed to leaf and root to tree to blossom to seed). ‘Art’ may have lost much of its etymological meaning, but maybe it retains the potential to re-emerge as a metaphor for sustainability, like a flower waiting for rain in some future desert?

This metaphor comes from my work with the artists The Harrisons, and is taken from their work ‘The Lagoon Cycle‘: ‘As the waters rise gracefully, how will we withdraw with equal grace?’

The difference between the Environment Agency’s policy of ‘managed retreat’ in response to sea level rise and our proposals in the work ‘Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground Gaining Wisdom‘ was the EA’s use of engineering and war metaphors to confront a problem, compared with an ethical and aesthetic repositioning of the situation.

‘Tide Turns, Waters Dance’ was one of my own ‘Writing on the Wall’ pieces, this one exhibited in Taiwan. The last of the 27 Haiku-style poems ended with the line, ‘water, time and grace’. When a Taiwanese professor quizzed me over the use of the word, ‘grace’ to end the work, I explained that a meaning of grace was ‘becomingness’. ‘Aha’, he replied, ‘so you hope to evolve beyond climate change?’


“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

Go to The Ashden Directory

Atlantic Rising


Atlantic Rising is a charity on a 28,000 mile journey circumnavigating the Atlantic overland along the 1metre contour line. This is the level scientists predict sea levels may reach by the year 2100.

Along the way we are creating an educational networkbetween 15,000 students in low-lying coastal communities. Through our photography, films andwriting, we are also documenting what will be lost if these predictions come true.

We don’t claim to have all the solutions to stop sea levels from rising.  But we hope our work will help the next generation understand their responsibility to each other to build a sustainable future.

Atlantic Rising explores what will be lost around the Atlantic Ocean if sea levels rise by one metre. Our work in low-lying communities around the ocean rim is journalistic and educational. We are creating a network between 15,000 pupils; enabling them to build friendships, share experience and collaborate on climate change projects. We are also reporting the stories of people whose lives are already being affected by sea level change and providing a platform for marginalised voices.

We don’t have all the solutions to the causes of sea level rise. But we hope our work will raise awareness about the difficulties faced by Atlantic communities and help the next generation learn their responsibility to each other to build a sustainable future.

We believe education is the most important weapon we have in combating climate change. Today’s children will inherit the environmental legacy of previous generations and it is vital that climate change is a subject that is accessible and relevant. We also believe that most children listen to their friends much more than they listen to teachers.

By building connections and discussing our shared history, we hope to make pupils aware of the interdependence of Atlantic communities. By encouraging collaboration on climate change projects we hope to highlight the immediacy of the problem and the collective responsibility we have to find a solution. By encouraging friendships we hope to make people care about it enough to act.

Atlantic Rising – About the Project.