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Conscious Lee is a public awareness project to help people value and protect their rivers. Rivers are rich sources of life and are vital for clean water. They are beautiful spaces to connect with nature. We all need to appreciate our rivers. We can all help river wildlife and protect this natural amenity for future generations.

We have a multifaceted approach with an installation, illustrated poem for children, a website, a podcast, a webinar, a zine, and a facilitated workshop overlapping to engage with the head, hand, and heart model of transformative learning (see: We use empathy as a connective force to help people understand their relationship with rivers and the natural world.
The project was conducted by students of Munster Technological University's Creativity and Change course ( across April and May 2021. Covid-19 restrictions were a key consideration in the development of the project as we designed impactful features which could be accessed by people outside or online.

Interweaving the local and global
Through a focus on Otters and the River Lee in Cork, the public will be informed about habitat loss and climate change using SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation for all) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). They are encouraged to take action to help water wildlife and protect rivers as natural amenities. The project also highlights our connection to rivers as ‘blue spaces’ that are not only good for biodiversity and combating climate change, but are hugely beneficial for physical and mental health. We aim to raise awareness of climate change and the effect of human interventions in the landscape, its impact on waterways, nature, and humanity. Recent attention on issues of flood management and other human activities, and their effect on wildlife, in particular otters, interlinks with SDG 15 Life On Land, ‘Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity’ and SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, ‘protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes’. Our suggested actions also merged local and global elements. For example, as well as cleaning up a local area, people were encouraged to support international NGOs that provide clean water. The significance of individual lifestyle choices as climate action was balanced against the need for larger systematic changes

The centre piece of our project was a month-long installation in the window of Munster Technological University's Gallery, 49 Grand Parade Cork, which ran during April 2021.

Website and Social Media
A website ( contains important information about valuing our rivers and blue spaces and how we can protect them. It has information on SDGs, links to our resources and to local campaigns and groups for further action. Our Instagram site echoed the information on the website with more opportunities for interaction and public engagement (

We have a podcast with contributions from experts and people passionate about the River Lee. You can listen to it on Spotify ( Soundcloud (, ApplePodcast (

Activities for Children & Young People
It was important for us that the project would be accessible be people of different ages and capacities. We created specific resources for these cohorts:
Colouring Pages and Activities for younger children:
An Otter's Life on the River Lee illustrated poem:

Simple actions make a big difference
We encouraged people who engaged with the project to commit to simple actions to help value and protect rivers as freshwater ecosystems and sources of clean water.
Reduce your carbon footprint by walking and cycling more, and eating more greens
Shop locally and buy sustainable products
Use earth-friendly cleaning and body products, and be careful what you flush down the toilet (only the 3 Ps: pee, poo, paper!)
Use fewer plastic products, which often ends up in rivers and oceans
Organise for your school, community, company to plant new trees annually
Support organisations that give water to areas in need

The project took place against the backdrop of Covid-19 restrictions, which required us to develop remote and online engagements.

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