By Robin Broder, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Board Member
What an amazing weekend in DC! Thanks to the weeks of preparation by local Riverkeepers, artists and spiritual women, the Waterkeeper movement had one of the best presentations at the People’s Climate March.
In the weeks before the March, Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks, Anacostia Riverkeeper Emily Franc, Patuxent Riverkeeper Fred Tutman and Waterkeepers Chesapeake joined Spring of Light and EcoHermanas at sacred water ceremonies on 3 Saturdays in April. The public was invited to participate in cooperative art-making led by visual artist Caryl Henry Alexander. Blue totems were created to represent the stories of our local rivers and the spirit of the water at the People’s Climate March.
On the eve of the march, the 30 totems were brought to the culminating Honoring Our Sacred Waters ceremony and festival on the banks of the Anacostia at Poplar Point. Waterkeepers from across the region and nation brought water that was joined together for a moving and inspirational blessing of the waters ceremony. The water collected represented waters from as far away as the Cook Inlet in Alaska and the Puget Sound.
Rabiah Al Nur of Spring of Light and Linda Velarde, a curandera from New Mexico, traveled on Anacostia Riverkeeper’s boat across the river gathering water along the way. Penny Gamble-Williams opened the circle with a Wampanoag wind blessing. Coracão Dance Collective, a local African dance group, performed a dance in honor of water. Then Linda joined her husband Guillermo in an Aztec dance and Rabiah led a circle dance. The evening closed with an amazing light display from the Detroit Light Brigade.
Over 200,000 people marched in the People’s Climate March in DC. As part of the Water Protector section of the march, the Waterkeepers were a sea of blue, with the 30 totems and a huge Great Blue Heron from Assateague Coastkeeper. The visual display was very effective in connecting what we all hold dear — clean and ample water resources — to the climate movement. In addition, our Spring of Light and Ecohermanas partners brought our water to the march to be joined with waters from across the nation and world.
The water ceremonies and the march were beautiful, hopeful moments. We are grateful to our local partners for sharing their commitment to building community and healing our waters at this critical time. We look forward to future collaborations. We thank Shelby Kalm of Waterkeepers Chesapeake and Sonia Keiner of Patuxent Riverkeeper for taking the lead in planning the events with our partners.
Together, Waterkeepers will work with our local communities, Indigenous Nations, workers, faith communities, NGOs, and many others to resist the federal administration’s attempt to roll back clean water protections, and to build a clean water and clean energy future that works for everyone.
Check out photos on Flickr!