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Blog art croppedBy Jim McCloskey

I’ve heard it often enough in the past couple years that I’m becoming a believer: It looks as though more and more watershapers are finding seats at the design table and have become respected participants in water-related aspects of significant projects led by architects, landscape architects, interior designers, developers and others who have historically been shy about inviting anyone new to the party.

In article after article, I’m seeing not only that top watershape designers, consultants and builders are getting involved in projects at the very earliest stages, but also that the other people around the table recognize that their participation is important to more than a limited scope of activity on site. Indeed, there’s a spirit of collaborative integration emerging in which water is considered from the start as a fundamental component required for overall project success.

It’s enough to make me smile ear to ear, because this is a dream come true for those of us who were involved in developing the WaterShapes mission – a group that includes not only yours truly and Eric Herman, but also the original Genesis 3 trio. We all recognized that being locked out of early meetings made it impossible to do the best-possible job and that building credibility to a point where winning seats at more design tables was the be-all and end-all of what we were collectively trying to accomplish when we emerged together back in 1998.

What a difference two decades have made!

But this is no time to rest on any laurels or rely on momentum alone, because the invitations to join design teams are still far less common than they should be. And that’s why we at, in league with Watershape University and the International Watershape Institute, are rededicating ourselves to reaching out with even greater energy to architects, landscape architects and others who run point on major projects.

For, this means more articles of the sort we’ve run in the recent past in which watershapers are proud to have been called to the table in the earliest project stages. More than that, it means more articles about the qualities that make these invitations happen, which means, more than ever before, focusing on instances in which watershapers are able to present themselves as problem-solvers, as team members who know how to get things done through their own knowledge and experience and who know who to call when their own knowledge and experience aren’t quite enough.

That’s the difference between 2020 and 1998: Today, through Watershape University, Ask the Masters and, those who need support can actually find it – and impress other professionals on design teams with their own skills as well as by knowing who to call when they need additional guidance and feedback. Resources of that sort were thin on the ground when I first started paying attention in the 1980s, and it really only became possible when watershapers shifted gears and started to value education as well as sharing, strategic collaboration and, ultimately, development of communities of like-minded professionals.

I’m not saying that the process is complete by any means and that it’s time for a nice round of Kumbaya: We all know that there’s much more work to be done, many more people to educate, many more craftspeople and artists to corral into the watershaping community – all to prepare for participating with other professionals who, heretofore, haven’t been particularly encouraging or welcoming.

But I’ll be damned if the times aren’t changing, and to have played even a small part in firing up the wrecking ball aimed at breaking down professional barriers makes me phenomenally proud – partly of myself, but more so of people I know who’ve made their voices heard on project teams while there are still decisions to be made, mistakes to avoid and perfection to pursue.

Walls of this sort are meant to be broken. The cracks are there, so what are we waiting for?

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