The "Beyond the Mirage" team included (from left): J.D. Gibbs, Kerry Schwartz, John Booth, Susanna Eden, Cody Sheehy, Jatta Sheehy, Brittany Xiu, Dave Bogner, Sharon Megdal and Meg Hagyard. (Photo: Arizona Community Foundation)
The "Beyond the Mirage" team included (from left): J.D. Gibbs, Kerry Schwartz, John Booth, Susanna Eden, Cody Sheehy, Jatta Sheehy, Brittany Xiu, Dave Bogner, Sharon Megdal and Meg Hagyard. (Photo: Arizona Community Foundation)

UA Team Wins $100,000 in Water Challenge

"Beyond the Mirage" is a collaborative effort designed to raise awareness and understanding about water issues in Arizona.
April 2, 2015

"Beyond the Mirage," an entry from the University of Arizona, was selected Wednesday as the winner of the New Arizona Prize: Water Consciousness Challenge, receiving the competition’s $100,000 grand prize.

"Beyond the Mirage" aims to raise awareness and understanding about Arizona's water supplies, demands and challenges. It was developed collaboratively by a creative team from the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which includes the Communications and Cyber Technologies Unit and Water Resources Research Center, along with Arizona Public Media and marketing professionals.

"Our strategy is aimed at multiple audiences, but our core target is the voters and decision makers of tomorrow," said Cody Sheehy, video coordinator in CALS. "That means we had to design an experience that matches how young people interact with digital information."

"Beyond the Mirage" will use the award to help launch innovative Web and social media strategies to engage Arizonans, who will create and share their own mini-documentaries on a website expected to launch in January. With the help of Arizona Public Media, the hundreds of clips that cover all facets of Arizona’s water story also can find homes throughout the news media and on major educational sites such as PBS learning media. Arizona Public Media also will produce a feature documentary from the same content.

The New Arizona Prize, an initiative of the Arizona Community Foundation, Republic Media and the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, seeks to harness Arizonans' creativity "to solve persistent and complex problems." Through the Water Consciousness Challenge, the first in a series of New Arizona Prize challenges, organizers highlighted the importance of raising water-issues awareness in communities.

The Water Resources Research Center fielded two of the five finalist teams for the New Arizona Prize. A panel of judges selected "Beyond the Mirage" after reviewing presentations from the finalists at the Phoenix Art Museum.

"It’s a real testament to the respect enjoyed by the WRRC in the water community," Sheehy said.

The interdisciplinary team led by Sheehy included Susanna Eden, WRRC assistant director; John Booth, executive producer at AZPM; Meg Hagyard, director of the GIFT Center at the UA Foundation; and Jessica Hall of Hall Consulting.

Watch the "Beyond the Mirage" trailer and join the campaign at: http://beyondthemirage.org/.

Learn more about the New Arizona Prize at: https://www.newarizonaprize.org/.