DRY-5: Stories from the California Drought

It all started with the idea of a drive down the 5, the I-5 to be precise. A drive to locate the epicenter of California’s drought, along the state’s central artery, where large signs silently scream “Congress created this dust bowl” and miles of cultivated fields, many now fallowed, grow a large portion of the country’s and even the world’s walnuts and artichokes, broccoli and almonds–to name just a few crops.

Four years into the drought and many people can probably explain how much water it takes to grow an almond. The ever-growing demand for our state's dwindling water supply has inspired a seemingly endless finger-pointing war in which no one and nothing is safe, not the grass on the highway median, nor one of the smallest, tastiest nuts.

But what if we could create a space to reflect the complexity of the drought, a space free of blame where people from all places and backgrounds could share their drought story and for a moment, we all would come together as a larger California community and listen.

Welcome to the website for Dry-5: Stories from the California Drought. Dry-5 is a project that has been in the works for over a year and we are thrilled to be able to share this performance with you. In the words of one of our interview participants, we hope to present you with “an artistic expression of what feels fairly chaotic...and also really interesting and really full of big people and ideas.”

Here, you will hear from a diverse group of Californians: scientists, politicians, farmers, residents of the Bay Area, Southern California, and the Central Valley, ranchers, and journalists. The text, audio and video found here are pulled verbatim from interviews by Mari Amend and S.C. Lowe. With any changes made to the original interview text in the video recordings of performances, Mari remained as close to the original words spoken as possible and went back to each narrator to request permission from them to share their story in the form in which they appear before you.

To be sure, Dry-5 does not cover every issue, perspective, or opinion related to the drought. The project to record interviews with people about their experiences in the drought is ongoing. In August 2015, Dry-5 appeared on the stages of San Francisco and in Oakland as a multimedia performance piece, adapted from the interviews and other source materials. In Spring 2016, Dry-5 will be produced as an interactive exhibition in the Central Valley.

We want to express our endless gratitude to all of those who have made this work possible–in many ways, Dry-5 represents the California community, in the sense that it has truly taken a community, far and wide, to record these interviews, and adapt them for a performance and exhibition. To our interview participants, our donors, our community partners, our friends and family, and to our cast and crew of the August 2015 production, and to the Community Water Center we cannot thank you enough.

–Mari Amend, Doria Charlson, and Cambria Lowe


All photos on this site were taken by Cambria Lowe. All graphics were designed by Mari Amend.