Community Spotlight: Aquanesia Teaches Grand Rapids About Clean Water
Something strange is going on in Grand Rapids, and it’s up to the community to solve the mystery. Northern Lights.mn, an arts organization based in the Twin Cities, collaborated with Itasca Waters, the Reif Center and the Grand Rapids Players to create Aquanesia.
“What the players do as they’re going through the game is that they’re meeting these fantastical characters and they’re learning clues about how clean water works or doesn’t work and, sort of, how we build our cities to maintain healthy systems for ourselves and for our water,” says Sarah Peters, the co-director of Northern Light.mn.
Teams were sent on a mission all over the city to solve a futuristic water crisis. Each station in the game was specially crafted to teach about clean water.
“In one station, we’re looking at how run-off on lawns and agriculture can really create a huge difference in the lakes,” says Steve Dietz, another co-director for Northern Lights.mn. “We’re also looking at algae and how do you clean that up or invasive species.”
When the contestants go through all the stations and solve Aquanesia, their final stop is a reflection pod to think about what they’ve learned.
“At the end, they bring together all of these experiences and all of these clues and they synthesize that content to understand that this is really a complex system and that there’s no single cause, but that we need to find the balance of all these things working together,” says Kim Loken, the game designer for Aquanesia.
The creators say the game was meant to be physical and the actors were meant to memorable to make sure players really retain the message.
“The key learning that we hope people take away from the game is that we are all in an ecosystem together. That if the water’s not healthy, we’re not healthy,” says Peters.
For the groups that went along on the journey, some say they couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.
“It was really fun. I think our whole group had a really good time and we learned a lot. It got us outside, moving and doing stuff as a family,” says Kim Huffman, who played the game with her family.
You can learn more about Northern Lights.mn through their Facebook page here.