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The whole notion of "sustainability" in our focus on an inclusive, sustainable future for rivers points attention directly to questions of values and culture. As I wrote here a couple of weeks ago, a "fourth R" for sustainability might be "Rethink." (The post was River Talk July 13, in case the software just dumps you into the blog).
But how do we learn to rethink how we live with rivers? One of the really dynamic regional sustainability blogs, Green City, Blue Lake, offers a notice of an upcoming event near Cleveland that might be helpful. A neighborhood "sustainability week" proposes to take the "no impact project " up in scale to "neighborhood." Why not try it at a watershed or subwatershed level?
Something like "no impact week" sounds hard, requiring lots of commitment. Where do we get visions or stories of what that new life, and its connection to rivers, might be? One perhaps obvious point is to make the change fun. As reported in Indian Country Today, this year's First Peoples' festival in Montreal brings together indigenous artists and others from across the world in a week-long festival celebrating films, concerts, and visual arts. My guess is that festival-goers might learn a few things about sustainable relationships with the earth and with each other, maybe without the word "sustainability" even being spoken. Going to be in Montreal next week? Stop in and see if I guessed right!
Closer to home, the blog of the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative posts community responses on what the Mississippi River "could be" in Minneapolis.
Finally, the "Aquadoc," Michael Campana posted an excerpt from Luna Leopold's "A Reverence for Rivers." Leopold, son of the great writer and conservationist Aldo Leopold, was one of the most prominent hydrologists in the United States in the 20th century.
Which just goes to show the even scientists need literature and art, inspiring visions and narratives of what our world could be.
What are your inspiring visions and narratives? Share them with me and I'll post, along with the sources.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily
of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.