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Editor’s Letter: New World Water

Frame > Frame Stories > No. 7: The Water Issue > Editor’s Letter: New World Water
Mark Kurlyandchik Water Issue
Photo by Joe Vaughn.

When we first began work on the Water Issue of Frame Stories, a scorching summer had us thinking of boats, fishing, and the trending Ranch Water cocktail.

I’ll admit as I sit here writing this a few days after Labor Day — the unofficial end of summer — that we’re a little behind the editorial season.

But here’s the thing about water: It’s so ever-present and essential to our existence, we take for granted the fact that it’s ALWAYS relevant.

“Most people on their daily grind do not consider the modern marvel that is plumbing,” writes an anonymous chef for Frame Stories’ newest feature, Industry Anonymous, where hospitality professionals can vent, unvarnished, on a given theme. All cooking, the chef writes, is actually about the concentration or extraction of water…(LINK: Industry Anonymous: A chef’s view of water)

As I write this now, the entire city of Jackson, Miss., has no clean water, a tragic echo of recent crises closer to home in Flint and Benton Harbor.

Meanwhile, an entire third of Pakistan is underwater, due in large part to the catastrophic effects of man-made climate change. Thousands have died and millions have been displaced by the deluge.

The Colorado River, which supplies much of the western United States with water, is drying up at an alarming rate.

And droughts across Europe and Asia have disappeared entire rivers.

“Water is the messenger that’s delivering the bad news about climate change to your city, to your front door,” Jay Famiglietti, the director of the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan, told ProPublica in an eye-opening interview last month.

While the current and future state of water on Earth doesn’t offer much reason for hope, NASA recently found what it calls a “water world” exoplanet not too far from us — if 100 million lightyears away can be considered “not too far.”

Even our exploration of the universe is dominated by our thirst.

There is some better news closer to home, depending on how you frame it.

“I don’t think most people understand that scarcity in many places is getting more pronounced,” Famiglietti told ProPublica. “Nationally, let’s look at the positives: It’s a big country, and within its boundaries, we have enough water to be water secure and to be food secure and to do it in an environmentally sustainable way. A lot of countries don’t have that.”

For those of us near the Great Lakes, which hold 90% of the country’s freshwater, that could be cause for concern or rejoicing. For better or worse, there’s about to be a lot more attention lavished on the region in the coming years. Let’s not take it for granted.

I certainly didn’t take Michigan’s bounty of water for granted this summer, having touched all four of the Great Lakes that border the state within a few weeks of each other.

It was on Lake Superior where Frame Creative Director Joe Vaughn and I got to spend a rainy morning seeing how one of the last state-licensed commercial fisheries runs their business. We went out with Paul & Dennis VanLandschoot, the third generation of the 108-year-old VanLandschoot & Sons Fishery, to catch whitefish. We were so impressed with their story and product, we invited them down for an end-of-the-season celebration of whitefish at Frame Oct. 2, with chef Jason Biega of the Munising fine-dining staple Tracey’s at Roam Inn doing the cooking. (LINK: On the water with one of Lake Superior’s last commercial fishermen)

A few weeks after our Lake Superior excursion, we joined Captain Timmy Tongue on his 31-foot Pursuit and set sail from the southern end of Grosse Ile to go bar-hopping by boat, hitting some of the unique waterfront restaurants along the northwestern edge of Lake Erie. (LINK: 4 metro Detroit waterfront restaurants to visit by boat)

For our Community piece this month, we’ve partnered with 101.9 WDET-FM to bring you a story with audio by reporter Tia Graham about Jason McGuire and Detroit’s Riverside Marina, one of the country’s only Black-operated marinas. (LINK: Black-operated marina welcomes Detroiters to the water)

Getting off the water and into it, we turned to Mabel Gray bartender Max Schikora, who’s become somewhat of a sparkling water expert since going sober nearly three years ago. (LINK:Mabel Gray bartender Max Schikora has a sparkling water obsession)

And our cocktail recipe this month comes from Frame Mixtress Jaz’min Weaver, though it doesn’t require much bartending skill at all. Ranch Water, which has become all the rage in Texas thanks to the holy trinity that is sparkling water, lime, and tequila, is about as easy a cocktail as it gets to make at home. (LINK: Frame Cocktail Recipe: Ranch Water)

I dare you to make yourself one and try to keep from spewing it all over your screen while watching this video of real people blind-tasting Liquid Death sparkling water against some of the world’s most expensive ingredients, such as squid ink and lobster bearnaise.

It won’t change our worldwide water woes, but a good laugh can help all that doom & gloom go down a little easier.

— Mark Kurlyandchik