Listen to Mary Kean reading this article — 4 minutes
Water, water everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The great Canadian, Maude Barlow, has made sure the United Nations declared clean water a human right. Simultaneously in beautiful, rich Canada, Indigenous communities remain without clean drinking water. Meanwhile, liquefaction, a condition of too much water threatens our shore and our islands here on the West Coast. Further, valuable rain water pours into the sewers of Vancouver. Of course, we cannot forget the optimum flood conditions created on the Sumas prairie, formerly the Sumas Lake, costing millions in money and scores of animal lives.
These erratic and critical events call out to us to review our policies and practices in managing and protecting our precious resource of water. This is not so much a matter of money, but of bringing together representatives of the ones most affected by the situation, the society’s leadership, the experts, the ones whose ancestors lived here for thousands of years, and working out how we’re going to deal with the situation going forward – and then, acting.
Fair enough. But what is the role of the artist, the poet, the story-teller or the thought leader here? In this journal, the report, the idea(s), the craft, the story of ordinary people, the story of exceptional people and the call to action will demonstrate that we are putting our shoulders to the wheel to keep the reality of the climate crisis alive in the hearts and minds of our readers. For so many of us, art is a joy and a beauty that expresses the desire, the passion to recover what we can and to save the commons of which water is certainly a most important part.
Though nothing can bring back the hour
of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower.
We will grieve not, rather find strength
in what remains behind.
Ah, yes. Well. Writing in the Industrial Revolution, the Romantics watched as the forests were destroyed and the Thames burned, composing poems and music or painting about it. Now, of course, we rather wish Mr. Wordsworth and his motley “crew” had gotten out there and done something about it. Let’s us not have our children and grandchildren say of us yeah, you mourned the losses and the ignorance, but whaddyado about it?
Dr. Tim Takaro is our example. Accomplished as a physician scientist and a professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University, there was no need to go out of his way. And yet, he put it all on the line for his beloved tree. Okay, so maybe we cannot all sit in trees (nice to picture that, though!), but we can all do something to contribute to solving the greatest crisis we have faced as a global community.
We can, we must respond. We can ask ourselves every day – are we doing everything we can possibly do?
Mary Kean is a widely published poet and writer. She edited The Journal of Collaborative Therapies and was a Couple and Family Therapist for over 20 years. The Climate Crisis has been a concern of hers since she read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Her work as editor of the GTEC Reader is on behalf of her grandchildren.