A growing number of people are recognizing that in order to secure the clean air, water and food that we need to healthfully survive, we have to become guardians of the places where we live. People sense the loss in not knowing our neighbors and natural surroundings, and are discovering that the best way to take care of ourselves, and to get to know our neighbors, is to protect and restore our region.
Bioregionalism recognizes, nurtures, sustains, and celebrates our local connections with:
Land Plants and Animals Springs, Rivers, Lakes, Groundwater, & Oceans Air Families, Friends, Neighbors Community Native Traditions Indigenous Systems of Production & Trade
It is taking the time to learn the possibilities of place. It is mindfulness of local environment, history, and community aspirations that lead to a sustainable future. It relies on safe and renewable sources of food and energy. It ensures employment by supplying a rich diversity of services within the community, by recycling our resources, and by exchanging prudent surpluses with other regions. Bioregionalism is working to satisfy basic needs locally, such as education, health care, and self-government.
The bioregional perspective recreates a widely-shared sense of regional identity founded upon a renewed critical awareness of and respect for the integrity of our ecological communities.
People are joining with their neighbors to discuss ways we can work together to:
Learn what our special local resources are
Plan how to best protect and use those natural and cultural resources
Exchange our time and energy to best meet our daily and long-term needs
Enrich our children’s local and planetary knowledge Security begins by acting responsibly at home.
Welcome Home! –from NABC I, May 1984. Reconfirmed by NABC II, August 1986.
Simply put, [bioregionalism] means learning to become native to place, fitting ourselves to a particular place, not fitting a place to our pre-determined tastes. It is living within the limits and the gifts provided by a place, creating a way of life that can be passed on to future generations.
A bioregion is an identifiable geographical area of interacting life-systems that is relatively self-sustaining in the ever-renewing process of nature. The full diversity of life functions is carried out, not as individuals or as species, or even as organic beings, but as a community that includes the physical as well as the organic components of the region.
Bioregionalists use the Native American term for North America: “Turtle Island.” Ish River is the left shoulder of Turtle Island, including both the “Puget Sound” and “Strait of Georgia” drainage basins.”
The crucial and perhaps only and all encompassing task is to understand the place, the immediate specific place, where we live: “In the question of how we treat the land,” as Schumaker says, “our entire way of life is involved.” We must live somehow as close to it as possible, be in touch with its particular soils, its waters, its winds, we must learn its ways, its capacities, its limits, we must make its rhythms our patterns, its laws our guide, its fruits our bounty.
That, in essence, is bioregionalism. A bioregion is part of the earth’s surface whose rough boundaries are determined by natural rather than human dictates, distinguishable from other areas by attributes of flora, fauna, water, climate, soils, and land forms, and the human settlements and cultures those attributes have given rise to.
Bioregions are geographic areas having common characteristics of soil, watersheds, climate, and native plants and animals that exist within the whole planetary biosphere as unique and intrinsic contributive parts.
Bioregionalism is an age-old way of viewing the world. Regions are not delineated by imaginary, straight lines as scribed by humans, but by the climate and land forms which make that part of the planet uniquely distinct. Local life-forms, cultures, traditions and hopes for the future reflect that particular place on the planet in which they’re rooted.
Bioregionalism interprets the world through a variety of regional value systems which reflect the parameters of the regions from which they are born. These value systems cannot be superficially based on prejudices and presumptions but must be fitted to the ecology of their place.
Flowing Together: The Ish River Bioregional Confluence
by Lansing Scott
We stood in a large circle on the grass, about 60 of us, wearing colored ribbons representing the directions from which we had come, banging together driftwood sticks, and chanting the names of the rivers in our area. The people standing in the west began, “Hamma Hamma, Duckabush, Dosewallips, Quilcene,” and the chanting went around the circle, through the “Ish” rivers of the east—Samish, Snohomish, Duwamish, etc.—that had led poet Robert Sund to name the Puget Sound drainage basin “Ish River country,” a land “between two mountain ranges where many rivers run down to an inland sea.”
This opening ceremony was a way of firmly locating ourselves in a real place, calling forth some of the essential elements—the rivers—that define that place. From here we could go on to discuss how it is to live in this place, and how we should live here. Not a typical opening for a gathering to shape a regional political agenda, but this gathering was special. In addition to the usual committee work of a congress, this “confluence” had important social, cultural, and spiritual elements as well, that flowed together to create a solid bond between participants, and between people and place.
The Political Dimension
Part of the time of the confluence was devoted to developing statements of philosophy, policy guidelines, and action plans in a variety of issue areas. The nearly 100 participants divided into nine committees: Water, Earth, Fire, Food, Economics, Governance, Equality, Culture & Education, and Cosmology & Spirituality. All committees operated by consensus and then brought their resolutions before the whole group in a final plenary where most of the committee worked was passed by consensus, with some amendments.
The Social Dimension
Perhaps as important as the bioregional agenda developed, though, was simply the social ties that were created and strengthened at the gathering. These kinds of relationships and social networks are necessary to create a bioregional community that can sustain itself over the long haul.
Organizers wisely built in ample opportunity for creating these social bonds. Most participants camped together on farmland in the country, where we had a big salmon feast on Saturday night, followed by sitting around a campfire sharing stories, music, and poetry as part of the “culture and story” segment of the confluence. Social relationships were also greatly enhanced by the fact that all elements of the confluence were participatory, mainly in small groups. This created a very different ambiance than most conferences where people sit passively listening to speakers.
The Cultural Dimension
In addition to the committee sessions, equal time was devoted to culture and story at the gathering. This consisted of people first dividing randomly into small groups and sharing stories of their local place. Selected stories were then brought before the whole group on Saturday night to be shared around the campfire after the salmon dinner. On Sunday, people formed groups according to the watersheds they were from and quickly developed a song about their watershed to present to the whole group. Again, considering the short amount of time groups had,the presentations were surprisingly good. Also, several poets of place, including Robert Sund, read their poems at the gathering.
The Spiritual Dimension
Throughout the gathering, the spiritual connection—between people, and between people and the land—was constantly affirmed, most explicitly during the opening and closing ceremonies. Fred Jameson of the Red Cedar Medicine Circle was on hand to share his peoples traditions with us during the opening ceremony and at the salmon feast on Saturday.
Everyone seemed to feel comfortable with affirming spirituality as part of the bioregional movement; it never became a contentious issue as it has at other events.
The level of unity among participants was high throughout the gathering. Bioregionalists tend to give their primary allegiance to the land rather than to a political theology—they “stand for what they stand on.” This literally gives them some common ground which isn’t always present in gatherings of the Greens or other multi-issue progressive coalitions.
All the people from all the places, along with all the elements of the event—political, social, cultural, and spiritual—managed to flow together pretty well at the Ish River Confluence. This created a sense of wholeness that is missing from most political activity. It may have flowed a little rough at times, and it may have been more a trickle than a raging torrent capable of transforming a region, but it was a good beginning.
About These Proceedings
No written record can replace or reproduce the experience of those who attended the Ish River Bioregional Confluence. Each person’s experience was unique, and most of what was said felt, and done during the weekend was never written down.
Inevitably, most of what is printed in these proceedings had been written and published before the confluence, and they offer little of what was spontaneously created during the weekend. They are not intended to be a complete and balanced record of the event. Rather, they are intended to stimulate the memories of those who attended and to give those who did not attend some idea of what happened at the Confluence; they are not a historical document, but as a networking tool.
by Constance Maytum
The Opening Ceremony of the Ish River Confluence was designed by Jim Riley of Langley and me. We were looking for a way to imbue the Confluence as a whole with the mystery and passion that we need to build our identification with the place in which we live.
We are our bioregion and our region and our continent and our planet. We are in the web of things that makes up our understanding of the place. We are the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the place that it grows, the earth that holds us in her gravity grasp, so lovingly and totally that we take our care for granted. This place is our body.
During the Ceremony we introduced a relationship with the place we each as individuals stand in the physical orientation to Whulge (Salt Water) of the Inland Sea. We formed a circle and took a ribbon to designate our direction. I led a moment of silence for all of the creatures, places and things lost to us for all time by our arrogance as human beings. Jim brought driftwood from his beaches on Whidbey Island for noise making. Fred Jameson had his chanting drum and lead us in a song of the Cedar Tree. Jim led us in a song of the Cedar Tree. Jim led us in the song of River Names, having each group sing the names of their rivers around the circle. We then all sang a slow chant to Whulge while we tasted the salmon and washed our hands with the sea water and were censed by the smoke of cedar boughs. We closed with a Song of the Dream sung by Fred Jameson and Shannon Warwick of the Red Cedar Circle.
For the closing ceremony, the energy building during the Confluence was pulled together to form a community. Each watershed got together and created a short piece, usually musical, often humorous, to celebrate their part of the Confluence of the Rivers to Whulge. We then joined hands in large circles of women and men and made a commitment to the planet as a whole as we circled in opposite directions representing the female/male energies of the moon and the sun as they made the tides and the light and dark. Each group then presented their pieces to the group as a whole. We sang a song at the end and acknowledged that our place was here but that there was a larger place around our place of which we are also a part.
The Story of ICE
by David McCloskey
(to be performed)
There is one who is not here today, but is still with us. His spirit hovers over this place. All who live here know what he can do, for he has made the face of this place, curved out the curved lines of that collective body we call land.
He’s huge and careless, white as a polar bear, with a great long tongue and a big broken snout. He’s so cold he makes your teeth chatter, and he’s older than the hills. He is ICE!
Like a great hungry bear awakened from a long winter’s sleep, he eats trees and rocks and grinds mountains flat; his claws dig deep trenches in the ground. He is ICE!
He has many faces. There are nine spirits between Ice-Dying and Ice-Being Born—Feathery Snow into Ice, Ice Clear, Ice Hollow, Ice White with Anger, Ice Groaning with Hunger, Old Black Rotten Ice, Ice-Shrinking and Turning into Wild Waters. His dreams can make it snow. He is ICE!
His father is the sky, his mother the sea; he has many brothers and sisters all around us, and we, my friends, we are his children. He is ICE!
Now, geologists call it the “Puget Lobe of the Cordilleran Glacier,” but we know better—for he is the Ish River Glacier. On the other side of the Cascades there was another huge glacier called the “Oknagan Lobe.” Ish and Okanagan are brothers.
Our lifestyles are nothing compared to his. He keeps his own ancient rhythms—hibernates and holds still high in the mountains, then awakens and roars down the valleys, retreats and advances, advances and retreats, the land rising and falling, falling and rising, in a long looping dance of 15,000 year cycles.
Imagie a wilderness of peaks 11, 12, 13,000 feet high—a storm of stone, white caps frozen in the moonlight. Mountains are earth-waves blasting in from the sea. Palms held high, they stand like great cloud-catchers holding and releasing rivers from the sky. Where is ICE today? In the home of the mountain king—in the glaciers, vast snowfields and icecaps at Tahoma, Glacier, Komo Kulshan, Golden Ears, Mamquam, Garibaldi, Gheakamus, Blackcomb, Weart, Gilbert, Gernville, Whitemantle, Waddington, Silverthrone, golden Hinde, and Olympus!
Imagine a thousand rivers of ice pouring down valleys tribe by tribe till whole clans are gathered. The great ice sheet splits north and south halfway up Vancouver Island, and one tribe heads north out of the Queen Charlotte Strait while the other heads down the Strait of Georgia. Watch how the ice flows south in a great curving “S” shape as it pours down the Coast Mountains of B.C., how it banks off Vancouver Island where more tribes join in, and how it then curves to the southeast where another tribe splits off and sails out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the sea.
Only the highest peaks stand free, islands amid the ice, like island mountains in the Sound such as Orcas, Lummi, and Saltspring. Then many dragons crawl out of their beds in the North Cascades at night, and with much arthritic groaning and gnashing of teeth join ICE flowing south. (Here where we now stand, in the belly of the beast, ICE stands over a mile high.) Everywhere ICE pokes his snout into the sweet marshes, reaches many fingers up into the lush, green valleys.
ICE roars until he hits the corner from Snoqualmie south to the wall of Tahoma, where he can go no further. Then he banks again toward the southwest around the Black Mountains and Olies until he melts in great torrents out the Chehalis river to the ocean.
Four times the tide of ice came down, four times he ebbed back to his mountain house. Our era is the 5th inter-glaciation, and in my moments of despair I sometimes believe that ICE may be the only thing that can cleanse this land, and restore an orginary natural order.
ICE created the vocabulary of this place: points, cliffs, and bluffs, headlands, peninsulas, islands, bays, inlets, fjords, sound, straits,–Ish River, the whole inland sea. ICE clawed out troughs 1,000 feet deep; these trenches soon filled with salt-water, creating the great bowl of green waters in which we now dwell.
Today you can still hear the echoing of the Ish River glaciers as they boomed and banked back and forth between the two mountain ranges. Everywhere you can see the great angles of ICE’s dramatic passage. The scalloped edges of this land—the water’s edge, the recurved arc of a point like an arrow pointing over and over, the string of lakes on the plateau, the mountain fronts themselves—all these and more echo the great angles of incision. Actually, the land is scalloped in three dimensions—the bowl stretching from mountain range to mountain range, the bowl from north to south, and the many underwater basins with “sills” on either end which are moraines dumped by the glaciers.
Because the tides of ICE ebbed and flowed north and south, the grain of this land is grooved in the same direction. The islands, however, are old mountain ranges running east and west across the grain; but they, too, were ground and grooved by the glacial rasp along the new axis. Everything here is aligned by the great glaciers.
Depressed by the enormous weight of ICE, when it melted the land bounced back like a cork, and is still rising today. They say there is a hinge somewhere near Deception Pass….
If rivers are knives, then glaciers are plows. Both cut and fill. And what was cut away from the north was carried bodily and dumped in southern Puget Sound. Beaches, for instance, are littered with huge boulders called “glacial erratics” floated down from the B.C. ranges on rafts of icebergs. Northern and southern Ish River Country are reversed mirror-images of one another—north is vertical, south horizontal, one is deep-cut fjordlands, the other shallow mud-bays.
ICE created the soils here—unsorted glacial till inter-bedded with voluminous sand from deltas, peat from bogs, and blue clays from the bottom of glacial lakes. The glacial debris is 3,000 feet thick at Seattle! These are very new soils—rocky and hard to garden. Our estuaries and few rich alluvial farmlands like the Fraser, Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Duwamish, Puyallup, Nisqually, and Skokomish are precious indeed.
Many mysteries remain—tiny rivers in large valleys, abandoned watercourses, old river deltas high up on hillsides, empty plunge pools, mima mounds and arid prairies, glacially deranged drainage patterns—how did these come about?
As the many-tongued glacier flowed south, ice-dams formed at the mouths of great rivers such as the Skagit, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, and so forth. Lakes formed and spilled over into the next valley south, and then the next, and as the combined melt-waters and mountain streams kept rising, the waters between the wall of ice and the wall of mountains flowed south together in great torrents, a wall of water. One “Really Big River” flowed along the face of the Olympics and other “Really Big River” flowed south along the Cascade Front. These rivers carried more water than the Columbia today.
All that is left now are the abandoned meltwater channels. Yet these phantom rivers that made the place and will return have no name. In honor of this confluence, I hereby call the combined flow of all the rivers dammed by the wall of Canadian ice “ISH RIVER”! ISH RIVER is the great meltwater channels, gone but not forgotten. ISH RIVER EAST and ISH RIVER WEST coursed around the sides of the Black Hills below Olympia, where the waters rose and flowed over the edge of the bowl through the Black Lake spillway into the Chehalis river to the sea, leaving behind the enigmatic “Mima Mound” prairies.
ICE and FIRE are the twin gods of destruction, the endings and beginnings of worlds. Strange how FIRE on the Pacific Rim calls forth its opposite. Stranger still when FIRE erupts directly through the ice sheet, as at Garibaldi Park. The land was theirs before it became ours, and in a longer view of things, it is theirs still.
ICE strips the land bare, holds it tight in a frozen embrace, incises its own living memory into this living landscape. Our place is not a patchwork quilt of something new and something old, but rather something completely new, made over each time ICE crawls down from his mountain house.
But destruction of one world means the birth of a new one. ICE is a gift to renew the earth from the sea in the sky. This is a hard telling we should not forget.
Remember—ICE shall come again!!!
Apologies and thanks for borrowings to: David Wagoner for “Song of Ice”, from Who Shall Be the Sun?, Annie Dillard for “the point like a recurved arc….” from Holy The Firm, Tom Jay for “his dreams can make it snow” from River Dogs, and several generations of geologists and glaciologists from Bretz and Mackin to Crandell and Easterbrook.
Night along the Columbia, Day in Blewett Pass, Going Home
Far out on the dark river,
a fish jumps.
Dew is gathering on dry willow branches.
My friends lie asleep,
and I head back to our tents in the locust trees,
a mile away.
the river has left a still pond
A few snipe call back and forth in the night.
Their small tracks in the mud
fill up with moonlit water.
I think of
anonymous Chinese poets, old poems on silk,
the pleasure of being alone,
through a herd of cows asleep in scant alfalfa,
the last crop of summer.
Over my head, the moon is half in the sky,
half in the locust branches.
Some people are awake, talking softly.
Our small fire falls to a circle of quiet coals.
I trace the long drive home tomorrow; south—
across the mountains.
And someone has mentioned Seattle.
spill over onto the sidewalk at Tai tung,
and the fat cook limps
back through the screen door, smiling.
Down on the docks
they’re unloading a boatful of black-eyed halibut.
seeing the moon on the wet deck
Along the Columbia,
three more hours and I’m home.
I close the car door
and walk in a field of mountain grass.
I lie down, drink
clear water, dream of old rituals
and what it feels to be pure of heart.
When I get back home to the Ish River country,
I’ll open the barn door
and see the hides of white horses
-Robert Sund, Ish River,
North Point Press, 1983.
Reflections Of A Fisherman
Take a look down into the water sometime, can you tell its color? There’s a place I know, between the kelp line and the cliff face, where a different sort of rainbow lurks. Up against the rock is a line of blue…the sun throws glitter around the rock facets and the waves. Out a little way you find the greens, the light ones and the dark ones inter-weave like the fronds of kelp do further out…and here, in this curtain, where the purples and browns play, are little specks of yellow and orange, the rock bass and snappers. A family of green ling-cod fingerlings stay close by their father, a black-backed band of herring swim outside the kelp and once in a while one turns its side and sends a flash of silver toward the surface; and now a blue-backed torpedo smashes among them to lash out with its tail…the large spring salmon hooks out and leisurely picks up the few crippled herring that spin out of the school. When it has fed, it will rest just inside the kelp in a sparkle of sunlight.
The water changes all the time, a brown filter of fresh water drifts through with a special load of feed for the smaller fish. A school of needlefish wiggle their tails down in the sand, leaving just their heads out to filter-feed…suddenly they decide to move and the surface boils with bubbles as young coho gorge on them.
There are many ways to find fish. If you had to stand for hours on a rock with just a salmon spear, perhaps the colors would tell you as much as anything. Watch the birds, sense the shifts in the weather, the change of tide, listen for the orca or sea lion to herd you in a fish. Will the seal try to rob you of your dinner? Maybe fresh seal liver…
Time warp. Mechanical inevitable beings patrol the coast…big ones with cargo of bone, blood and fur from the earth to be packaged into dark light and slipped into silicon chips for safe keeping? The new bone game. Some of those bones stored in Vancouver, Victoria, only a few, maybe, but their dark light is very strong. It finds its way out and lives in little boxes on the little boats…
There are many ways to find fish. A sharp triangle on the sounder paper is sockeye, a larger band is spring. The herring seiner must know when he sees anchovy lest he clog his net and miss the rich set for roe. The troller must filter the ghost fish from his radio scanner, chase only the secret codes which smell of true silver.
Time warp. Wolves, whales and other inevitable living beings patrol the coast. What must they sing to one another? Do they know of the dark light and the boxes it lives in? Bear hides in thick brush at the sound of planes, whales identify by motor pitch. They have not one estuary bay, left to them. What must they sing to one another?
The mountains remain in place, and for the most part do their work. Ice rhythms and snow rhythms keep time that the salmon will know when to be born and when to die. This was always the clock on the coast, the stream the compass. The sun light is budgeted by the fresh water, child of the mother ocean, and in the play through temperatures and elevation is recorded the vigor of life on our coast.
As the rivers return to the sea, bringing local gossip to the chorus of secret whisperings from distant coasts, those who live close to this conversation gain knowledge even in their sleep. It is this which makes fishing worthwhile; the water changes all the time.
—From Raise the Stakes (the Planet Drum Review) no. 5,
Major Watersheds of Ish River Sound
A watershed is a region draining into a river or body of water. Watershed boundaries are defined by the ridges separating watersheds. Since all of the land within the watershed drains to a common outlet, every activity on the land can affect the watershed system. The activities underlined contribute pollutants such as intoxicants, bacteria, or sediments. Rainfall can carry these pollutants into streams, rivers, groundwater and Puget Sound.
Watersheds are the closest natural approximation to ecosystems. They represent a whole and distinct life context. A watershed has “walls of hills and mountains, a floor of river or lake, and a roof of rain clouds.” It is a living, self-regulated organism. A watershed matrix nurtures the life within it.
We must find our watershed and take responsibility for our place as a whole. Pepole are only one part of the watershed matrix. A normative rule for human use of water should be to always return the water as clean or cleaner than we receive it. Every person is a body of knowledge that can be used to protect and sustain the watershed in which they live. We encourage pooling of this knowledge by formation of local citizen groups.
Access to information is critical for citizen groups. Information is required for education of the public, for countering destructive actions and proposals, for formulating ecological alternatives to existing practices and for developing watershed protection plans. Many useful publications are available from public agencies or libraries.
1. We strongly recommend that Ish Bioregionalists recognize, contact, and support existing citizen groups and develop local watershed programs such as the Puget Sounders the Healing of the Sound Program, the Northwest Rivers Project, and the British Columbia Watershed Protection Association.
2. We propose to prepare a source list of useful publications, which will be made available to local watershed protection groups. We encourage libraries to make these materials available to the public.
3. We also propose to print a directory of groups which present information on watersheds of this bioregion and their water quality protection strategies.
4. We encourage groups, adopted by the watershed as its guardian, to identify species whose health is an indication of the health of the whole. Such indicator species as mussels, clams, crab and bottom fish, trout and salmon should be monitored together with water samples taken by the guardians at times of high runoff during the rainy season or regular periods of each season, especially at solstices and equinoxes when water most reveals itself to light.
5. We also encourage Ish bioregionalists to become involved in the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority planning process by joining or forming a local watershed management committee and by getting onto the PSWQA mailing list.
We invite input regarding similar organizations in British Columbia.
6. Things You Can Do:
-Find out when and where toxic chemicals are being intentionally used or disposed of in your watershed.
-Determine what government agencies are responsible for regulating and monitoring toxic chemicals in the watershed.
-Become familiar with county and state representatives who can influence regulation of toxics.
-Inform local libraries of appropriate periodicals, journals, and books on watershed protection.
-Promote recycling and reduction of waste at its source, in addition to opposing specific waste disposal sites and practices.
-Support employment of groups to rehabilitate streams.
-Endorse dismantling dams.
Culture is the way we adapt as a species. It is diverse forms of dwelling in place, continuously adapting over time to place, attending to the ecosystem and its mythic relations. Culture is the larger context in which education takes place. It nurtures and shapes the character of people and communities. Culture is three generations living simultaneously together, telling and retelling the story.
We envision a culture that would serve the local ecosystem, and be adapted to it. We envision replacing the current global mono-culture with many small indigenous cultures which would encourage a variety of roles and communities, open and interconnected. Cultures would have rites of passage to adulthood, and promote caring values and connections to others. We envision cultures that would consider the impact of their actions upon the local ecosystem; for the current generation and for seven generations ahead. We envision a culture of inquiry instead of a culture of answers. Acknowledging certain places on the earth as sacred, and speaking a language of connections rather than ownership? Indigenous human cultures would enter a dance of diversity and become a democracy of spirits.
We suggest that we create a working group to develop a specific training program for techniques in popular education, conflict resolution and consensus decision-making with a focus on the concepts and principles of bioregional self-government.
This committee will hold its first planning meeting in October; the contact people are Bill Aal, Seattle; Murray Black, Parksville BC; and Laura Porcher, Voictoria.
2) COMMUNITY BUILDING/POLITICAL ACTION
For us each to do in our own bioregions:
-Promote among others the following forms of organization:
Cooperative housing & intentional communities
-Introduce bioregional concerns into local land-use planning processes, especially as it concerns the interface between natural and human systems.
-Initiate local control in the municipal and provincial/state governments.
-Promote a healthy relationship between urban and rural, for example, create a dialogue between the two.
3) Participate in planning for CBC II, NABC 3, Ish River II, and convene your own watershed’s local gathering.
4) Ongoing overview of activities in bioregion. An overview committee consisting of Don Smardon, M. Black, Luanne Sorensen, and Chris Stearns is to develop and coordinate updated information about the bioregion.
Local governments throughout the bioregion are focusing on incinerators as a solution to the waste management problem. As an example, Mayor Royer of Seattle has recently called for building a garbage incinerator to handle Seattle’s solid wastes; at the same time he is calling for 40 percent recycling of the waste stream by 1997.
We are unalterably opposed to the construction of the incinerator. In addition to the unsolved problems of air pollution and disposal of the toxic ash, the presence of the incinerator would tend to discourage a higher rate of recycling than the planned 40%. Recycling has the benefits of contributing to conservation of energy and resources in addition to reducing the volume of wastes. The incinerator does not.
In principle, we support the Mayor’s commitment to recycling. However, we think it does not go far enough. We recommend the following timetable:
40% by 1992
80% by 1997
over 99% ultimately.
Achieving 99% recycling will require changes in consumption patterns and changes in the composition of the waste stream. We support tax incentives for manufacturers to provide recyclable packaging and tax liabilities for failing to do so. We support a higher garbage utility rate for individuals or households who do not recycle. We support the phaseout of non-recyclable/non-biodegradable materials and packaging.
In principle, we support the Mayor’s proposal for curbside recycling. We question whether Waste Management, Inc. Has the necessary commitment to bioregional values to be entrusted with the recycling effort. We support the idea of neighborhood groups to manage local recycling.
We have used Seattle as an example. These principles apply as well to Vancouver, as well as to other ares of the Ish River Bioregion.
We call for the following actions:
1. Each attendee at Ish River begin to recycle one more item after the Confluence or use one less non-recyclable item.
2. Each attendee should bring recycling/composting in his/her household to 70% by or before the next Ish River Confluence.
3. Support products and businesses that provide recyclable product packaging.
4. Write letters to businesses to support or complain about product packaging.
5. Boycott the following items: disposable diapers, disposable razors, disposable lighters, blister packaged products, overwrapped fast food, plastic bags at grocery stores, plastic clothing, jewelry, and accessories.
6. Work with established groups to encourage others to recycle and compost:
Sierra Club Toxic Committee
Washington Citizens for Recycling
State Dept. Of Ecology Recycling
Find out about others.
7. Work to incorporate recycling and energy conservation, as well as other bioregional values, into the curriculum of the public schools.
Our Bioregional Neighbors
Those who were present at the Ish River Confluence will remember them as “the people with the drums.” They were six visitors from the dry interior Fraser/Thompson watershed, the bioregion just to the northeast of Ish River. Centered around an ecological community in the Bridge and Yalakom River Valleys, these people are living bioregionalism.
Some of them call their land “Moha,” or “Mumha,” the land of the drumming grouse. But the name and the boundaries of their bioregion are not that important to them; what is important is living in place, on the land.
Their publication, The New Catalyst, is a wellspring of bioregional wisdom. Many of the graphics in these proceedings are from The New Catalyst, and much of the spiritual and emotional support which went into them came from the same source.
The Ish River Bioregional Confluence was greatly enriched by the presence of these neighbors. Technically, they may not be in the Ish River bioregion, but they are definitely a part of our bioregional community. The following poem was read by Fraser Lang during their presentation at the Saturday Night campfire.
Song of Ourself
by Fraser Lang
We sing the song of ourself,
We sing the song of a People.
Our voice is rich and timeless,
we are a choir of consciousness,
We sing the song of ourself,
we sing the song of a people
and of histories fading into twilight.
Our roots go deep into the humus of the past,
and we are continuous with it.
We are effervescent carbon brought to consciousness.
Out of the primordial seas life arises:
Thank you mother plankton, green tamer of the sun,
we were once as you are.
Thank you sister fish, dark cool gliders of the oceans,
we were once of your water nature.
Thank you reptiles and amphibians, slow creeping
cold blooded first dwellers on land.
Thank you mammals and monkeys, soft cousins
roaming the forests and savannas of the world.
Thank you human ancestors, the first ones,
springing out of the trees, the jabberers,
the organizers, the social ones, the adaptors.
Taming the god of fire,
Creating the miracle of speech.
Caring, sharing, banding together, making tribes.
Learning the old ways of balance and cycle,
and passing them on, and on, and on.
Of this we are part.
Of the blood and plunder of Empires,
we disassociate ourselves.
But of this we are part.
We claim it as our history, our origins, our genesis.
The sweep and flow of evolution is still going on,
and we are continuous with it,
we are in process
we have hope.
We are people of place, situated and particular.
Our veins are rivers, and our backbones ridges.
We are of root and rock and soil.
We are of the mountains, we are rugged and steep.
The smell of juniper and pine exude from us,
for we have absorbed them, and their significance
We see the eye of coyote, bear, raven, salmon,
and the others,
and have absorbed them, and their significance.
The young are born, and the old die,
the same for all,
and we have absorbed them, and we respect all.
We rock on the rise and fall of the seasons,
and lives pass like the grasses in the field.
But the people continue, we sustain, we adapt,
we stay together,
We absorb all and in our turn are absorbed,
We are in balance,
We are native
We sing the song of ourself,
We sing the song of a People and our vision.
Where the hearthfires of the earth are rekindled,
catch and take hold,
blaze hot and crackle strong and bright,
beacons of peace across the face
of our sweet green planet.
We see federations of free communities and peoples,
living in place,
all giving, all receiving
no conquered, no conquering.
Joining together, the people are empowered,
self-government becomes possible,
and the fabric of society is reknit
into a growing quilt of freedom.
Around warm hearth womb,
primary nurturing of character, seed of society,
growing into future fruits and flowers,
we gardeners all.
For endlessly as a fish in water
we swim in the collective mind.
We filter, digest and bathe in
the refracted light and diffusion,
reflections of reflections, all passing through.
Our tool of culture, shaping and being shaped,
Our vision of peace.
We sing the song of ourself,
We sing the song of a people.
Our voice is rich and timeless,
we are a choir of consciousness,
Earth, heart, and heart,
by Alice Kidd
...the Lillooet people
who lived here from the age of the ice,
Then the invaders came.
Then the invaders came.
First they wanted the furs.
Then they scraped and mauled the earth,
To get at the gold and minerals.
They dammed up the river for electricity,
And took the river away through the mountain,
Leaving the river bed almost empty.
No more salmon! The richness gone!
They came back then for the wildlife.
Not for furs this time.
They wanted the glory,
they wanted the thrill,
they wanted to show their manhood.
Now they come for the logs
They’re clearing the land
It’s drying the land
Weakening the forest
For the bugs.
Ish River Bioregional Confluence
The Flight of the Herons
by Daphne Wheeler
There were 300 of us standing,
standing on the lawns of the legislature
Parliament Buildings, Victoria
We had come to protest
against the logging and mining
despoiling the beauty and life
of the forest, of the islands,
of the home of the Haida,
of the home of the Clayoquot
and other First Peoples.
“Save South Moresby!”
—Queen Charlotte Islands,
heritage, national world treasure—
“Save Lyell Island”
—brave Haida line
stemming the truck flow
but still the trees are falling—
—heartland mountain interior
“Save Meares Island”
—mystic, ancient, native home
thousand year old cedar and fir—
we called in chorus
our forest of banners waving
we listened to our speakers
Robert Bateman—artist naturalist
Tom Henley, Vicky Husband,
Knights of the Charlotte’s.
We didn’t know then
we didn’t know
that South Moresby had been saved.
It was while Haida Elder Bill Reid
that it happened
one by one we touched each other
so many birds—large birds
What are they? Herons!
Fifty to a hundred
flying straight and swift
right over our heads
over the Parliament Buildings
“It’s an omen!”
we said to each other
“It’s an omen!”
we didn’t know it then—
the flight of the herons was an omen
It was the First Day
of the opening of Parliament
Social Credit Premier
Van der Zalm
And we sang “O Canada”
before they played it
“God keep our land
Glorious and free
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”
“Save Strathcona!” “Save Maeres Island!”
“Save Lyell Island!” “Save South Moresby!”
And it was.
Gathering Herons Bones
Three have died:
I’ve managed to keep one corpse
frozen in good condition
but for a burnt & shattered wing
(its dying my responsibility:
my farm, my electric fence it died on)
The other two corpses no blame,
the accidents of life and death,
but I have gathered in their bones.
For one a bier in fir woods
to let it dry and molder slowly, come to bones:
a young one, the soft skull
already fallen away, and brought home.
And I have its big left wing primaries for writing
in a deep and dusty blue
The one other bones a gift, found in a dark mess,
and I was careless, and missed important bones
and they lie drying now, incomplete, those
intricate, long-stemmed, weightless bones
Interviewed by Constance Maytum
Fred Jameson of the Lummi Tribe and the Red Cedar Medicine Circle has ancestors on both sides of the political boundary that divides our bioregion. He says that he is rediscovering his Northern ancestors and their stories. This excites him for his own rediscovery and what this knowledge will mean to his son.
He felt the Call to speak for the whales and the sea creatures and the waters after a prayer in May of this year. The Grandmother Spirit spoke to him. “The Whales have been speaking to everybody by beaching themselves. Mother Earth is awakened, so everybody better be 100% into what they are doing because she is awake and will take care of these things. Sometimes, I feel ashamed to be a human being because of the destruction. We are in a new time, things are changing. I support all the people who are working hard to make the change and love the earth. I do this with my prayers. Love starts everything.”
Spirituality and Cosmology
Our civilization is destroying its environment and the original human cultures which were the units of adaptation. We now live in a technological illusion.
We bioregionalists are trying to re-achieve a balance. To concentrate on restoring unity within community and with the earth is our priority.
We believe in the pervading, animating spirit of place, and we propose that a wholistic bioregional spirituality includes intergration of all the issue/action concerns.
These are essential qualities that each participate wishes to express:
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