The Inaugural Mark Pascoe Water Sandpit

Since the inception of the International WaterCentre, one role of the IWC, has been to stimulate a deeper and systems wide view on the value and importance of water.  Our founding CEO Mark Pascoe was a strong practitioner of finding ways to stimulate that discussion and a process of collective thinking among the broader network of colleagues with a role and interest in water.  However, Mark’s passing in 2022 was not going to dimmish IWC’s passion to ensure we do readily connect and that we collectively find ways to build a deeper understanding around water.

As a result, the “Mark Pascoe Water Sandpit” was offered as an event where we could collectively work on a water challenge, use our collective skills and experiences, and pool our diverse professionals perspectives.  This inaugural tribute event was held in early December and brought together 70 interested colleagues to a workshop venue overlooking the Maiwar (Brisbane River) from the 32nd floor of an inner-city location with motivating vistas.

The task at hand was responding to a challenge of “Valuing water: Who needs to care more?”.  As an end of year activity, the workshop provided a safe space for different views and ways to better engage those colleagues, decisions makers and others, who are neglecting water, to be considered.  We were “table sourcing” by playing at one of eight sandpits where we looked at:

  • The different values that water offer
  • Who are the various “actors” for water along a “care” to “don’t care” continuum
  • Ways that those: “who need to care more” can be better motivated and/or engage to step up.

Using contrasting scenarios, each table had a setting in which to build their own unique sandpit response.  In between the workshop tasks, there was ample chance for end of year connections and networking.  Plus, guest speakers Johanna Johnson (Logan Water), Michael Foster (Queensland Hydro) and Peter Browning (Studio THI), ensured that each sandpit was stimulated with a mix of fresh perspectives on water values, how to enact new water initiatives and mechanisms to enable communities to change.

The gathering of colleagues who invested in this half day workshop came from a unique multi-disciplined background.  Colleagues joined us from local, state and federal governments, water utilities, regional NRM groups, universities, consultants and industry groups.  Also befitting to Mark’s desire was having experienced colleagues working side by side throughout the afternoon with early career professionals, eager to learn and test their ideas.  This melting pot of experiences is at the heart of the International WaterCentre’s mission to make learning a collective experience.

The IWC team were involved in table facilitation, capturing the various creative frameworks, created using many sticky notes, as the conversations continued to build.  The event designer Piet Filet – Engagement and Collaboration Specialist, was pleased that all participants were happy to embrace each scenario challenge and “play” with possible options.

On conclusion of the workshop, feedback, and eagerness that the IWC continue with the Mark Pascoe Water Sandpit as an annual end-of-year event was rewarding to hear. Together with our partners, the Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University we were very pleased and proud to have initiated this event.

As the sun set over Brisbane on this Monday afternoon, the conversations with some cold refreshments and delicious canapés ensured that new connections and network strengthening were underway.  And there were many comments saying, Mark Pascoe would have been very pleased with this opportunity.  Until the next “Water Sandpit”!!

The team from the International WaterCentre would like to thank those in attendance, and we look forward to offering this safe space annually, so we can share and learn from each other every year. Make sure you leave room in your diaries and join us, this time next year for the next Mark Pascoe Water Sandpit!