‘Fire up Water down’ is a blog about our relationship with the intuitive elements – fire, water, air, earth and spirit. My first post, titled ‘Women on Fire’, introduced the genesis of the blog and the element of fire. This, my second post (yay again), covers the water element in the blog title and introduces another woman, this time with a passion for rivers. For any males reading the blog, rest assured that it’s not only going to be about women and the elements, however fascinating that subject may be!
Rivers are our life-blood. They can flow over-ground and under-ground and come in many shapes and sizes. Like many, I have strong memories connected with rivers. Experiencing the vastness and beauty of the Amazon River is one memory that is indelibly etched in my mind. Such an incredible, expansive and dynamic system. Enjoying the serenity of the Gordon and Pieman Rivers in western Tasmania is another highlight.
Such connections are not surprising, considering the range of benefits rivers provide. Water to drink, bathe, wash, swim and fish in; irrigation for growing food; energy to produce electricity; places to travel along; places for plants and animals to live; subjects to photograph, paint and write about; and the spiritual connection many of us feel when we walk along or sit on the bank of a river. For some cultures, immersion in a river is a sacred act. All of these benefits from flowing water. Truly amazing.
The Australian River Restoration Centre (ARRC) highlights many of these benefits. The Centre is the brain (and heart)-child of Dr Siwan Lovett, who has created a vibrant organization and website, as well as other ways to share her passion for rivers. Siwan and I have been friends and colleagues since 1997. She is a social scientist and reminds physical scientists, often, of the importance of people in managing rivers and their catchments. To under-pin this message, the ARRC focuses on three main areas ‘Managing Rivers’, ‘Valuing People’ and ‘Sharing Knowledge’. It’s definitely worth checking out at:
For many years Siwan was the editor of RipRap, a magazine that includes science and stories about different river management topics. It had a following of thousands. A few years ago RipRap was closed because of the withdrawal of its funding – a consequence of changed government priorities. The disappointment over the loss of this informative and engaging publication has now turned to joy as RipRap has been revived due to the efforts of Siwan and the ARRC. A fantastic achievement.
The most recent edition of Rip Rap (No. 36) features Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. This is an inland desert lake in southern Australia that fills rarely when surrounding river systems are flooded. When Kati-Thanda Lake Eyre does fill, the explosion of plant and animal life is spectacular. A wonder of nature. RipRap celebrates this unique place through the sharing of photographs, art and stories provided by many collaborators. The Kati-Thanda-Lake Eyre issue of RipRap powerfully illustrates our connection with rivers and water, a fundamental element in our lives.
Another Australian that is passionate about rivers and their health is Arron Wood. Another inspiring individual. He is a strong advocate of the value of education and has initiated programs such as ‘Kids Teaching Kids’. Arron will be the subject of another post, so stay tuned. Interestingly, he is the Managing Director of a Company called Firestarter Pty Ltd. Fire up Water down.