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Fronteras: ‘Agua es vida’ — Todos Agua festival celebrates the cultural significance of water through poetry, art and music

Water has been a source of life, sustenance, and spiritual significance throughout history.

In San Antonio, water is central to the city’s origins.

Indigenous peoples first settled on the banks of the San Pedro Creek, across what is now Texas Public Radio headquarters. Devastating floods killed an untold number of local residents in 1921, and the San Antonio River has now been transformed into a lucrative downtown tourist attraction.

San Antonio’s Esperanza Peace & Justice Center is hosting the Todos Agua festival, a three-day celebration to honor the community’s spiritual and cultural connections to water through music, poetry, and art.

Activist and former San Antonio city councilmember, María Antonietta Berriozábal, is one of the organizers of the festival.

Berriozábal, the first Latina to serve on the city council in 1981, said the issue of water drove much of her activism.

“Scarcity of water today with climate change is an issue all over the world,” she said. “Here in San Antonio … the aquifer is still a sole source of water for millions of people in this area. And every time we build over it, we risk it.”

Musician Azul Barrientos, artist-in-residence with the Esperanza, and Carmen Tafolla, former San Antonio and Texas Poet Laureate, are also involved in the festival.

Barrientos grew up in Mexico City, which could be only months away from running out of water. She said grew up very aware of how she used water.

“We used to listen to the water,” she said. “At some point, I connected to water from another perspective, from love, from gratitude. And that’s when I decided that I wanted to give myself a little more to the issue in song.”

The Todos Agua festival features poetry, discussions, music, and art from local San Antonio artists and beyond.

It opens March 22, International Water Day, and lasts through March 25.

Find more details here.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1