Once upon a time, I lived in the country, and connected directly to the heat and water my family and I relied upon. We kept our house warm and cozy with our wood-stove, and our tap water came from the well just up the path from the house.


Later, we moved to the city.


In 2011, my neighbours and I learn that there’s a nuclear pellet producing plant in our neighbourhood. Yikes! I don’t want the plant in my neighbourhood – and I don’t want it to move to anyone else’s either. All of a sudden, it dawns on me – just how removed I’ve become from the water and energy my family and I depend upon every day. How much energy from nuclear plants do my family and I use to cook? To light our home every day? I know we heat with natural gas, but exactly where does it come from? I know my glass of water comes from Lake Ontario, but what’s its route to and from our taps?


I have no idea. I begin to realize how removed – and totally passive I’ve become – around the most basic things my family and I need to thrive – and survive – every day. It doesn’t feel solid. I want to provide for my family in ways that respect and honour the earth and the gifts of water, warmth, and power that sustain us.

I want to re-connect.


Two years into part-time, self- financed research including conversations, interviews and tours with amazing, inspired people, neighbourhoods and environmental groups working to build self-sufficiency, sustainability, and security around energy, water and food, I encounter The Water Docs Film Festival. Later that year, I join their team.  I've been wondering about how to translate my research to tell the story of our household water and energy in a hands on, engaging way. At a meeting of the Water Docs Design Team, I raise a crazy, but compelling idea – I want to build a bike powered water pump to show the energy it takes to bring a glass of water to our taps in time for the 2014 Water Docs Film Festival. The wonderful Water Docs team said, sure, go for it, give it a try.

Great idea, and zero skill set as a maker, handy person, or designer.  Little math/engineering interest or aptitude. I try to find someone to build the project, and when that fails, I realize, I need to lead the project myself. With no idea even how to begin, I put out the word that I need help. Kindness, interest, offers to help arrive from local organizations and people.   At every seemingly impossible turn, someone answers the HELP! call and shows up to take the project the next step forward – welders, bike mechanics, math experts, researchers, pump retailers, makers. And, in the end, The Pedal Project is born of the amazing generosity of time, spirit, and talent of several people.


It debuts at the Water Docs Film Fest, and returns in successive years to the Festival, to the Water Docs @ School Program, and to the Water Docs Gala and Exhibit Space. And, it ventures forth to add to the magic of festivals and events, most recently, to celebrate Ravine Day at Evergreen Brick Works – on its continued journey of connecting people of all ages to the energy it takes to bring their glass of water from Lake Ontario to their taps.

Encouraged by our audiences, we embark on 2018-19 marketing tour, travelling by train to pitch The Pedal Project to science museums in Canada.  Graced with generous time and advice from Annie Prudhomme-Généreux, Senior VP at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton, we head to the 2018 Association of Science and Tech Museums Conference to find a commercial fabricator to build an exhibit based on The Pedal Project.


The drawings of our newest exhibit "A Glass of Water" are in and generating great excitement!

Can you pedal the glasses of water you drink in a day?

How many glasses of water do you use in an 8 minute shower?

©  Belinda Cole | Havwits, Inc. 2017