Making Waves About Water at Grand Valley



Autumn Pitchure, Staff Reporter

Water is a necessity to everyday life and a huge part of life in West Michigan. That’s why Grand Valley State University’s new “Making Waves About Water” Initiative is celebrating our connection to the Grand River and Lake Michigan with “Friends and Family Day,” an event lasting from 3 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15. Those who pass by the big tent set up between Zumberge Pond and Kirkhof center can enjoy activities like water rockets and water color painting, a live performance by the band Song of the Lakes and an outdoor showing of “Moana” to end the evening, with popcorn included.

“Friends and Family Day” is kicking off this fall’s Big Splash Week — free events taking place from Sept. 15 to 21 on both the Allendale and Pew campuses. The week will be filled with water activities, speakers, kayaking and even a dunk tank, but also gives students a chance to get involved with local water issues, engage with their community and explore water and its role in the arts.

“We have a mix of intellectual and outdoor activities to bring people closer to water and enjoy,” said Professor of English and initiative’s co-leader Kathryn Remlinger said. “We discuss climatic representations of water in literature along with dance and music — because water is such a life source, we see it sprinkled in every discipline. Our campuses are located on the river. It’s a part of who we are at Grand Valley.”

In addition, the series will have two main speakers. On Sept. 16, Kim Nowack, the chief engineer of the Mackinac Bridge, will be speaking on its history and design in the Pew Campus Loosemore Auditorium. Sept. 19 will feature Peter Annin, author of The Great Lakes Water Wars, in the Kirkhof Center Grand River Room on the Allendale campus.

“His book discusses the potential conflict of water in the Great Lakes, and informs about how people have abused it,” said initiative co-leader and Professor of Geology Peter Wampler. “Living near the Great Lakes, water is part of our identity because of our location. We’re surrounded by water.”

There are 70 faculty members actively involved in the Making Waves About Water Initiative. Students and faculty are encouraged to join in and explore the many ways that water touches their lives. There are 10 teams that are working on projects, ideas and activities surrounding social justice issues with water and the environment. Each team specializes in a different task and puts it into action over the course of the two year initiative.

“We would love to have more students and we are open to student organizations that want to get involved in a specific way. They should definitely reach out to us.” Wampler said.

“The teams meet about once a month, and people can participate as much or as little as they would like to,” Remlinger adds.

The Making Waves About Water Initiative acts as a reminder of what makes Michigan special, creating opportunities to explore the ways water plays a role in our lives. This campus-wide effort both encourages advocacy for water sources and offers Lakers a good time with events that bring us a little closer to our namesakes. For a full schedule of “Friends and Family Day,” as well as the rest of Big Splash Week, check out the Making Waves About Water Initiative website at