Below the following info on this workshop, is more information on the project specific to an event that took place in October, 2013.


  • To more deeply experience San Francisco.
  • To bring attention to the hidden water sources underneath the pavement of the city.
  • To heighten a relationship to the physical aspects of the city, specific to the juxtaposition of the natural and man-made.


  • Its been proven that productivity increases when people take breaks from their computers and go outside.
  • Workshops are designed for team building and to create meaningful interactions between participants.
  • Civic engagement is fostered. The more a place is experienced, the more people care about it.

Participants will meet at the designated point and each take turns creating a chalk line on the city streets to reflect an underground water source. During the walk, info about the history of this area in relation to these waterways will be shared. There will also be interactive elements between participants. Water themed costumes are encouraged [and can be provided]. We will end up at a park location where snacks are encouraged [and can be provided], and we will have a discussion regarding the experience.

This project can be adapted for any type/age of group to participate in. All workshops are individually tailored to each group. A group consists of 3 minimum and 15 maximum people.

This workshop can take place in many parts of the city, including Castro, SOMA and the Mission – as there are waterways running through all these areas.

The fee is based on the amount of people in each group, and if the group is a profit or non-profit. This workshop also has a materials fee for the chalk. Please click the button below to get a quote.

Laurie Halsey Brown is an artist and the Director of senseofplace LAB. She has many years of teaching and education administration experience. After receiving her MFA from Cal Arts, she taught as a museum educator in many NYC museums, including the Guggenheim and the Whitney Museum of Art for several years. She then worked as the Education Director at several arts spaces including Art in General and Harvestworks Digital Media Arts, followed by a position as the Media Education Coordinator for the New Museum of Contemporary Art. She was a faculty member of the New School University, NYC from 1999 to 2012, where she designed and taught an online course titled ‘Interdisciplinary Media and Contemporary Society. Since moving to San Francisco, she has designed and taught several photo-based workshops through SkillShare, and was the Program Director for Art With Elders in 2012.

CONTACT for more info


SF Hidden Waters is a location-specific art project with a mission to bring attention to the hidden water sources underneath the pavement of the city. The first project revealed the Arroyo De Las Dolores creek that was so important to the early inhabitants of San Francisco. On October 20th, 2013, Eric Nielson and senseofplace LAB marked out the length of the creek with a football field chalk striper, and leave materials about the project along the length of the creek. The route stretched from Ord and Caselli streets down to Folsom street. The line crossed  streets, sidewalks parks and tennis courts, occasionally disappearing as the creek runs beneath buildings. River-themed music played during the piece, with people following the line making chalk drawings and adding native plants, to visualize the creek. People who follow the line will find the occasional information sheet with writings, images, maps along the route describing the history and context of the creek.The blue line is the path that SF Hidden Waters followed.

Imagine a creek running down what is now known as 18th street, emptying from the base of Twin Peaks. The creek is lined with willow trees swaying and swishing in the foggy winds that sweep down the hillside from the Pacific. Mosquitos fill the air at dusk, and the occasional grizzly bear squats in the creek to try its paw at catching a few fish. Native women from the Ohlone seasonal village of ChutChui collect reeds from the marshy areas in the valley.

The year is 1776 just a few months after the Declaration of Independence was signed. Father Palóu and an expedition of Spanish soldiers found Mission San Francisco De Asis (Mission Dolores) and hold the first mass a few hundred yards from the creek that they name Arroyo De Las Dolores or The Creek of Sorrows (Pains).

The water from the creek is sweet and spring-fed, and happily gurgles as it travels from the springs near presend-day Ord Street and Caselli Street down through the Castro along 18th street, past the mission, cutting through what will become the Dolores Park tennis courts, emptyies into a salt-water lagoon at Folsom Street.

Today it has been hidden, seen only in the basement of the Armory or heard laughing beneath the manhole covers in little valleys above Castro Street.
This project was inspired by finding a spring behind a friends house in London. The spring was used by the Romans and pre-roman inhabitant for thousands of years. It was located in a giant public park called Wimbledon Common (the same location as the famed tennis tournaments). My friend Sonya Sophia and I grabbed a few glass bottles and filled up enough water to drink for days. The spring had reputed healing properties, and both of us physically and psychically felt the effects of the water that had been charged by the earth that it had come freshly from.

There is much research that shows water is effected and programmed by vibration. I first saw this idea in the work of Dr. Emoto (popularized by the movie What the $%# do we know?). The concept is that water molecules record the vibration and energies that they encounters and magnetically record them in the structures that they form with each other. That information is then available to biological beings on the cellular level when consumed. If this was true, the most superior water was clearly water from springs, bursting from the earth carrying the information of all the minerals the water had traveled through.

Knowing that there are springs in San Francisco that do not require electricity to pump really excited me. In a city prone to earthquakes, power outtages, and loss of water pressure, an available spring of healthy water could be an incredible resource for a thirsty city. There are piped-out springs available all over California were any person can arrive with a bottle and get their fill of the freshness coming from the ground. How charming would that be in San Francisco? The city is filled with these artesian springs that provided water for the early inhabitants… it’s time for us to become aware of this great resource that lies below our streets and sidewalks.
The hidden water also highlights another controversial topic in California, that of the source of our municipal water supply – the Hetch-Hetchy Aqueduct. SFHiddenWaters is not aiming to take a position on this issue, but acting as an agent to invoke the imagination around the water and to create a palimpsest of the layers of city history. It’s goal is also to facilitate making the gift of these amazing springs available to the residents of San Francisco.

– Eric Nielson


SF Hidden Waters website!