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Bob Lind, Published December 23 2008

Library artwork reminder of how precious water is

It’s not a Christmas project, but it could be. Because in this season in which giving is a top priority, the artwork taking shape in the new downtown Fargo Public Library is a gift both to the Fargo-Moorhead area and to impoverished nations around the world.

It’s a display that will remind people of Wellspring for the World, a local nonprofit organization that pays for the drilling of wells in countries badly – even desperately – in need of fresh, clean water.

Wells and pumps

Wellspring for the World is the brainchild of Don Johnson, of Fargo and Peoria, Ariz., former owner of Don’s Car Washes in Fargo-Moorhead. He launched it because of this tragic statistic: 4,000 children die every day throughout the world because they drink tainted water.

Wellspring does something about it. It provides funds for Christian aid organization World Vision, which drills the wells and installs pumps. Backed by funding from Wellspring, World Vision has drilled seven wells in Mali and five in Ghana, and the money is being forwarded to drill Wellspring’s 13th well, also in Ghana.

Wellspring commissioned Fargo artists Jon Offutt and James Wolberg to create the art piece for the library. Gate City Bank is funding the project.

The artwork will contrast the abundance of clean water in the Red River Valley to the lack of it in some countries.

Forum columnist John Lamb wrote earlier this year that the sculpture will have green ceramic tiles that “will reflect the lush patchwork of farmland in the Red River Valley; running water will flow down a glass sheet with a red metal ribbon reflecting the (Red) River.

“As the piece moves to the other side,” John wrote, “the surface gets more cracked and brown, like the arid landscape in many countries.”

Peggy Stordahl, Fargo, a member of Wellspring’s board, says the project is coming along beautifully.

So, when the library opens next spring and its visitors take a drink of clean water from one of the library’s water fountains, the display perhaps will remind them that many people around the world, including thousands of children, don’t have that privilege.

This makes the artwork, in its own way, a meaningful gift to the area and to the world.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, N.D. 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com