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Swimming pool at AUT Millenium training center, Aukland, New Zealand. Image by Artem Verbo on Unsplash.

Washed Up

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.

A view of San Francisco from the bay from the water with just us and the seals. Image courtesy of Norman Hantzsche.

Open Water

…Every time I’ve entered the open water I’ve done so filled with some degree of fear. That being said, each time I’ve exited, I’ve felt exhilarated and maybe even a few millimeters further from my fear of swimming (and drowning) in open water. This is why I’ve returned for more.

Detail From Figure 8. Point Hudson, a well-known camping spot for Indigenous individuals who were traveling to hop fields in search of work. Image courtesy of Alexandra Peck.

Mariners, Makers, Matriarchs: Changing Relationships Between Coast Salish Women & Water

Historically, Coast Salish female identity depended upon water. Waterways provided women with countless economic opportunities, fostered family ties, created plentiful food sources, and encouraged female autonomy. Even as female maritime practices changed drastically throughout the pre-colonial and colonial periods, Coast Salish women imagined new ways to maintain connections to water.

Left: Coordinators meeting at an oxbox in the river. Right: With corn growing on the left, the wildflowers in the filter strip provide valuable habitat, as well as filtering runoff from the fields. Images courtesy of Mollie Aronowitz.

Collaboration for a Common Goal

We seek to tell a story that demonstrates how combining a common goal with compromise and deliberate action leads to creative solutions and meaningful progress. Our professional backgrounds and experiences are diverse—our group includes a professional land manager, a clean water policy attorney, a conservation agronomist, and a municipal watershed manager. Through each of our personal stories, we will share examples of action-oriented strategies for improving the quality of Iowa’s land and water.

Mississippi River Fugues, collage of video stills, Margaret Cogswell, 2008. Image courtesy of Ed West.

RIVER FUGUES

What is it to “know” rivers? As an artist I have been asking myself this question for over twenty years. Ever since an artist residency in Cleveland, Ohio led to my encountering the burning river history of the Cuyahoga River, I realized that all rivers have stories, and to learn of their histories was to explore and listen. In this essay, I will focus on my research on different rivers, sharing the meandering paths which have led me to explore these rivers and my creative responses to them in the form of mixed-media art installations that seek to reflect the complex relationships between land, water, and peoples. To contextualize the impetus for what developed into an ongoing series of River Fugues projects, I will offer some personal history. Although I was born in the United States (in Memphis, Tennessee along the Mississippi River), I went to Japan with my parents when I was 18 months old and lived there until I was 13 years old…

Fig. 1, The Kākā Reserve reflected in the Awataha Stream. Video still from ‘Re-Generation’ 2019. Image courtesy of Laura Donkers.

(Re)connecting Community to the Awataha Stream

Our modern ways of living have created an environmental crisis that threatens the very survival of humans and many other species. Yet awareness of this situation, though it may create an urgent sense of responsibility and even guilt, does not necessarily translate into action to change our ways. A narrative of “ecological disaster” can alert the public to the need for action, but the scale of the crisis and lack of wisdom to act can be overwhelming.[2] So how can communities become motivated to respond?…

'TWEED: Border Ballads' courtesy of Tania Kovats

TWEED

The River Tweed speaks instantly of borders, of unity and division, but also of warp and weft, telling us much about its shapeshifting character. This living marker of national meanings and historical boundaries flows eastwards 97 miles from the Lowther Hills to Berwick-upon-Tweed, descending 1,440 feet over that length. Its source rises 40 miles north of Scotland’s westernmost border with England. The river enters the sea two miles south of the border’s easternmost point. There is a ring of geological predestination to this bordering identity. It’s as if the Tweed exists as a sturdy trace of the ocean that separated Scotland and England 520 million years ago…

The Twelve Jing Xiakou, a real scene, Taishan Shigandang. Image courtesy of Jiao Xingtao.

Professor Jiao Xingtao and The Yangdeng Art Cooperative Project

The Yangdeng Art Cooperatives, with a cumulative total of more than 37 artists and students, worked each year in collaboration with local villagers in the small rural village of the same name as the river, Yangdeng, in a remote rural area of Tongzi County in Guizhou Province. Organized and led by Professor Jiao Xingtao, this project, over many years, was begun to “reconstruct the continuity between art and life” through an emphasis on “artistic negotiation.” As such, it constitutes a socially engaged art initiative, locating this remote rural village sited on a river as the experimental art locus for approaching an independent but profoundly collaborative working method…

Daniela Daniele took this picture to show that her research interests began with the canal that flows behind her apartment. This semester she’s defending her master’s thesis on the historical ecology of the Miami River. Image courtesy of Daniela Daniele.

Reflections on Negotiating the Science-Society Relationship Together

At the Tropical Rivers Lab at Florida International University, rivers have convened us to think deeply about how to best understand them and apply that understanding towards their conservation and sustainable management. We explore different aspects of south Florida ecosystems, Amazonian riverscapes, and East African waters, with collaborations across the tropics. When we decide “how” to best understand rivers, it is not just about the scientific questions we ask, but also about where those questions come from, how we relate to them, and ultimately, how these questions mediate our role with society…