Within the project timeline

We expect to complete the beginning of our part of the project by the official November grand opening, with the rest to be completed by summer of 2000.

The project itself, however, has taken centuries.

"Historically, knowing and understanding the
desierto gave rise to power, gave to its students a magical capability, if only survival--but survival in this valley of sun was, and is, everything.  By looking at the desert river in new ways, we will try to reclaim that magic."

The letter M, here rendered in its contemporary form, was originally a Phoenician letter representing what was foremost in the Phoenician universe: water. Phoenicians made their living by crossing between cultures as the first sea-faring traders. For them, the letter M meant waves, and the little squiggle every school child makes still celebrates the original impulse toward water. They pronounced the letter
mem, and it was a first act of onomatopoeia, of a word sounding like the thing it represented. In saying the word mem, the first mmm sound closes the lips; the eh, middle E sound pushes itself out and away from the mouth; the second M brings the sound back. This was the ocean and its tides--a wave in, a wave out, and a wave again. It was a universal truth, in three letters, and as clear a picture of their world as could be made.

But what was the sign for water to the Hohokam, the pictograph for water to the early Chinese immigrant railway worker, the music of water to the Apache worker who built the Apache Trail below Roosevelt Dam, the Mexican laborer who sculpted the quilt of farmland into the dirt? Our proposal is to find these answers and to celebrate them, not as decorations, but as truths.

In the Phoenix metropolitan area, in Tempe, the Río Salado is our water.  When we speak, when we say words with "M" in them, we are speaking the river.  The river has found its way into our mouths, not only physically but intellectually as well.
--Alberto Ríos

Words Over Water | Who | What | Why | Where | When | How | Images