Willamette River--River's LamentWater

I love living in the woods at camp. Surrounded by trees, by birds merrily waking up in the morning, by friends who enjoy being and experiencing the outdoors, by the sounds of what we call “Luther Creek” which winds around our property. The sound of running water is soothing to me because it is one of those fundamental sensations that connects me to the Earth.

I am an EcoFaith Recovery Intern and it is my privilege to document and create a video story of what EcoFaith Recovery is. I enjoy my role because it allows me to connect both physically and vicariously with all the aspects of the EcoFaith community. I enjoy hearing and conversing about the passions and vision you all have for how you live sustainably, locally and in community.

One experience has personally stuck out, however, and that is the River’s Lament Walk which was lead by Solveig Nilsen-Goodin and Trista Jolly. As we progressed though the walk a woman who I once met kept coming to mind. This woman, Celina, lived on a river, a river much like the Willamette. She is an Elder in the Fort McKay Tribe that is located just outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta, on the Athabasca River, the site where hundreds of thousands of crude bitumen is extracted daily and consumed in the U.S. Her river, much like the Willamette, has parts that are beautiful and thriving, but her part of the river is ill and so is she.

As she talked with the team and I about her story, her voice croaked as a tear came to her eye “they took away our culture, they took away our way of life.”

Her river was raped by an industry that supports a lifestyle. A lifestyle that consumes a population that has no idea what Celina has given up.

Water is something that sustains us yet we take advantage of some of our only clean water sources. The Willamette is a prime example of that, especially in the middle of Portland. It’s something we see every day, we probably even hear it over the roar of city traffic. But unless we stop to listen to her story we can’t begin to change what we are doing.

I think that’s why video production for me is so important. It’s a chance to channel the voices of those who often go unheard. Sharing stories provides opportunities for communities like EcoFaith to broaden our understanding of the world and to begin those seeds of change and providing a better future for those to come. It’s my way of being a steward for the land.

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Water (by EcoFaith Intern Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath)
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