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Thursday, April 19, 2018

River Study; River Stewards

Rivers are dynamic, vital ecosystems.

As I drove through the streets of my hometown, I found myself moved with a mix of emotions. On one hand, I enjoyed the memories of so many good times in the city, and on the other hand, I found myself saddened by what seemed like a lack of care with regard to urban planning, upkeep, and design--it seemed like there had been little attention to the kinds of urban design and care that create warm and welcoming places. This isn't a problem in my hometown alone, but when you drive through many cities and small towns all over the world, you'll notice that many have not worked to design and modernize in ways that build a warm and welcoming culture. Place matters and without attention to place, we lose the opportunity to build a stronger, more cohesive culture.

As I think about that, I am also thinking about the children I teach and the place where I teach. How can we use schools and education to foster care, attention, and development of our cities, towns, and natural spaces--what can we do?

My care and interest in my hometown was fostered, in part, by my education there. During my grade school and junior high years, I learned a lot about the history of that city and the special events and places there. That education helped to build respect for the city's history, geography, and people. In schools today, we can do the same for our students--we can teach them about their city/town's history, the people, the natural spaces, and the potential--then those students can grow up to both protect and develop that which is special and important about the places where they live.

Where I teach, I'll forward this sentiment and education in multiple ways. We've written a grant to support the visit of a living history presenter who will present the history of the town through the perspective of one of the town's most famous women, Lydia Maria Child. We also wrote and received a grant from the SUASCO organization, an organization dedicated to protecting the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers and surrounding habitats. We'll use that grant to teach students about the Sudbury River's history and geography, and in doing this, we'll aim to develop students' sense of river stewardship, appreciation, and conservation.

Today I'll meet with a representative from the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System to learn more about how I will utilize their resources to forward this learning event--the Sudbury River is part of this system, and I'll learn more about what this means and then relay that to students via a number of hands-on activities.

Further, I'll think about how I can continue to forward our national attention to the places where we live, work, and recreate since I know that beautiful, well designed, and well protected landscapes inspire the best of us, and when we let our surroundings, both human-made and natural, deteriorate, we hinder the promise and potential of the good life for all.