Inspirational river wisdom should also guide the long process of dam definition and review

The process of discovery and review of the plan for a dam and reservoir will likely be a long one.  Future decisions as to whether to proceed with next steps will be made on the basis of relative need and purpose, engineering analysis, projection of future conditions, extent of social and environmental impacts, public input, politics, and other factors.  But will the spiritual element also be considered?

We are early in the process.  A cursory initial “feasibility study” has been produced by the dam proponents.  It seemed like a marketing tool because it did not much address the disbenefits and downsides– of which there are many.  The ACED will soon start a Phase 2 feasibility study which will supposedly provide definitive detail.  They say it will take at least 6 months to complete.

While the Phase 2 feasibility information is being compiled, I’ll offer, among other commentary, periodic wisdom pertaining to the spiritual value of free-flowing rivers.  These will consist of quotations from various sources — leading authors, poets, and river advocates– which I’ve encountered over the years.  This blog’s first post was a quote by Scott Russell Sanders who I met at the Library of Congress at the “Watershed” conference sponsored by the Orion Society in 1996.  The conference was a gathering of educators, writers, and environmental activists.  Check out this great organization’s compelling Orion magazine at   Scott’s recent book, which I heartily recommend, is A Conservationist Manifesto, 2009. 

Orion has recently published a number of essays by environmental activist Derrick Jensen.  In his book Endgame, Jensen provides the following poignant quote–

“The river spirit is destroyed when you dam the river.  Our people have lived here for thousands of years. When you destroy the spirit of a river, you destroy our culture. And when you destroy our culture, you destroy our people.  If we are to live, the dam must go.”    Milton Born with a Tooth    quoted in Endgame Vol. 2– Resistance, by Derrick Jensen

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