A blessing in disguise

Since I lost my diary containing my mapping of drinking fountains I thought that was that, and I didn’t have time to redo it, but as it happens the order in which I have taken my photos would help to map them out I was going to redo (and still am another day) my map and have a key as to which kind of photos are located where.

In doing so I came across this lovely article from the age which lead me to a hand drawn map of drinking fountains created by some one else. Bellow is the best bits from the article

MELBOURNE’S reputation as a drinking city might be growing, but try telling that to Patrick Jones. All he wants is a free drink of water.
A search one afternoon for a drinking fountain in the city centre made Mr Jones angry.
So angry that he spent 7½ hours trudging around the city marking drinking fountains on a map.
Of the 27 drinking fountains found, only 18 worked.

Greens councillor Fraser Brindley last week asked council officers to audit the state of the city’s fountains in response to Mr Jones’ campaign.
Last night Cr Brindley said the council should back the drive so that city visitors would not have to buy bottled water.
“Getting the city’s fountains we’ve got working properly is a good first step,” he said.
“There is now this assumption that people will buy water if they need a drink. You should be able to get free water if you want it.”
“In Rome there’s a water fountain on every corner. Here we’ve got one for every 40,000 people,” said Mr Jones, citing Melbourne City Council figures showing that 732,000 people come to the city centre each day.

Here is the site for Just Free Water


A little while ago I called Melbourne City Council and spoke to an environmental officer about free drinking water points in the city. As a regular visitor to Melbourne I wanted a map of the city showing free water points so as I knew where I could refill my stainless steel water flask. He told me there was no such map he could give me, but thought there were about 15 bubblers in non-park areas within the city.

So I decided to map it out for myself. It took me about 7 hours to walk the CBD locating water bubblers. I found 27 of them, 9 of which required repairs, leaving 18 bubblers for an estimated 710,600 people who use the city each day (figure attained from the MCC website).

In real terms this means there is one bubbler for approximately 40,000 people in the city.

The start of the campaign:
1. Approach your local council to repair existing water fountains and supply new water fountains throughout your city or town.
2. Lobby your council/government to ban drinks bottled in plastic – stop petrochemical products creating more landfill problems than we already have and ask them to assess the health merits of every drink bottled in plastic under production today.
3. Get your local council to advocate ethical water drinking by citizens – thus promoting the carrying of refillable flasks, refilling them at free water fountain points, or from home.

It also featured in this issue of Dissent

And finally the blog created buy Patrick Jones where there is a little information about the project scatted through the posts.

Accessing public drinking water if you click on the link it takes you to the full sized image you can actually read.

Public necessity

Everything we buy is likely to be unsustainable and/or abusive in terms of its production and transportation. Water bottled in plastic is both.

How to Do Words With Things here is a book where Patrick Jones has added information about his campaign along with other poems and artworks, both my him and other authors.

“Jones describes his artworks as “poetical terrorism” or “physical graffiti” (38), a practice of site-specific, improvised and/or indeterminate happenings that disrupt public space, creating “temporary autonomous zones” (40). An example is Jones’s ongoing campaign against the Coca-Cola-owned bottled water, Mt Franklin, which is sourced (at a steal) from Jones’s local area in Victoria, bottled and branded as a consumer commodity and then sold for a massive profit.” Derrick Jensen: “If I had a thing of bottled water I would hold it up and say this is why we’re not going to have a revolution, because if people will pay for water bottled in plastic they will suffer any indignity” (35).

Jones’s campaign, Just Free Water, includes a website with information about public bubblers in the Melbourne CBD, illustrations of a techno-capitalist water cycle and a short film in which Jones reclaims a roadside patch near Mount Franklin and sets up a temporary site for play. Jones stickers bottle-caps with links to his website, and if he sees a Coca-Cola vending machine in a public space, he will turn the power off at the wall. “It is not from a sense of hope that I carry out these physical poems,” he says, “but rather from the consideration: traditional forms of poetry seem ridiculous this late in history” (38).
Citing British philosopher Alan Watts, Jones talks about how industrial-digital civilisation teaches the separation of the brain from the body. Watts refers to the body as contiguous with the rest of the world, “so that,” in Jones’s paraphrasing, “the air and water are as central to us as our lungs and heart” (29).


One response to “A blessing in disguise

  1. great to read about your project.


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