Life in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo River and Coon Creek watersheds, the focus of our Driftless work, has been punctuated by major floods in 2007, 2008, 2016, 2017, and the worst in recorded history in 2018. As flooding becomes more frequent and more severe across these watersheds, community members are working together to re-imagine ways to live well together with worsening floods.
In this article, I write about defensoras del agua y medio ambiente, water and environmental defenders: the women participating in an anti-extractivist struggle in northern Peru, defending water against the expansion of a large-scale mining operation in Celendín’s headwaters which mobilized a social movement against state and corporate forces attempting to expand the Yanacocha mine to nearby territory.
Pak T’ae-wŏn’s 1938 modernist novel Scenes from Ch’ŏnggye Stream (Ch’ŏnbyŏn p’unggyŏng, 천변풍경) is one thought-provoking example of these human-environment relationships in literature. Scenes from Ch’ŏnggye Stream provides an intimate portrayal of ordinary life for lower-class Koreans living along the Ch’ŏnggye Stream in a rapidly urbanizing and modernizing 1930s Seoul under Japanese occupation; it reveals how environmental, social, and political factors can mingle together to influence urban river environments and culture.
Every summer in my childhood my parents took me and my sister to beaches in Maine, mountain lakes in our home state of New Hampshire, and our uncle’s pool in Massachusetts just over the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border. Once the last towel was unloaded from the car, we’d rip off the clothing covering our bathing suits and race to water as if it was simply a mirage, wavering and threatening to disappear.
Two sets of rivers in what is now known as Canada are vital actors in urban landscapes. The McIntyre and Kaministiquia Rivers in Thunder Bay, Ontario and the Assiniboine and Red Rivers in Winnipeg, Manitoba are sites of colonial violence and disappearance: in both cities, dead Indigenous people have been pulled from their depths.