Some reflections on the May 31st Protest Paddle

Saturday’s Protest Paddle was a blast and hitchless, the logistics for which had been expertly planned by Garry Hill of Greentown who has planned and led hundreds of river trips throughout the state over nearly forty years. 

We had 50 canoes and kayaks both solo and tandem.  One red canoe from southern Indiana was painted with a succinct NO DAMN  DAM! message.  Others sported flags with various exhortations:  Protect Our Rivers Now!; For: Free-Flowing Rivers; Against: Slackwater and the Machine; Protect and Defend the Fluvial Life, and others.

By and large, it was a collegial group of well-mannered paddlers— affable, but worried about the dam plan. Most were over fifty. Many were natural resource professionals—active or retired. 

Unfortunately, not a single local public official participated— either elected or administrative.  The event title (“protest paddle”) possibly made them shy away or put them off.  Or perhaps they do not want to recognize, by their presence, “defensive rights” which rights are unfortunately treated as subordinate to the presumed right to destroy the natural order for economic purposes.

Despite the collegial group, there was indeed evidence of the protest spirit of resistance.  There were a dozen or more blue t-shirts with the message “Our White River—DON’T Dam IT! 

One t-shirt carried the message: 

“Plants and Animals

Disappear

To make room for

YOUR FAT ASS” 

 Relatedly, yesterdays Nation of Change news report carried a study announcement from EcoWatch about increasing species extinction:  

“EcoWatch, News Report: A new landmark study, published yesterday in Science, has found that the current rate of species extinctions is more than one thousand times greater than their natural rate, calculated from the fossil record and genetic data spanning millions of years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The new study used the fossil record and genetic data to determine that species of plants and animals are going extinct one thousand times faster than their natural rate—that is, when humans arrived. “

One canoe sported a small hand drum which punctuated the protest sentiment at various points along the way.

One canoeist sang (or rather endeavored to sing) a few of the lyrics of a catchy tune “Leavin’ Indiana” by Kokomo educator and Wildcat Creek Guardian David Inskeep:

“Gettin’ out on the river, getting’ out on the river, getting’ out on the river to play

We’ll cruise down together on a free-flowing river

Let the waters of the river flow away.

I’m paddlin’, I’m paddlin’

Let the waters of the river flow away”

Two impromptu chants of a political nature were also voiced.  In essence, they criticized the Anderson CED and Governor Mike Pence for perpetuating the destructive dam plan. 

A map of notable sites along the stream was prepared by Sheryl Myers of Heart of the River and was distributed to all paddlers at the put in. It helped to orient and educate re the stream corridor’s documented cultural and natural history.

Thanks are also due to the organizers at Heart of the River and to the principal sponsors:  Canoe Country in Daleville, The Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Indiana Forest Alliance.

Here’s the link to the Herald Bulletin’s June 1st report by reporter Traci Moyer:

http://m.heraldbulletin.com/thb/db_266132/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=phvopz7

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