Rivers Flow Through Our Hearts in the City

Denver, Colorado, United States—Cherry Creek and South Platte Rivers—Tom deBree and granddaughters

Denver, Colorado, United States—Cherry Creek and South Platte Rivers—Tom deBree and granddaughters

I shared a 2016 Global Earth Exchange with three of my Denver granddaughters at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River in the heart of downtown Denver. Today the city continues urban development of Confluence Park in the center of the site where colonial settlers searching for gold 158 years ago met Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples already inhabiting the land. From this site transport and transit systems from horse carriages to electric trams, trains, cars and bicycles evolved in Denver as the city expanded from the settlement by the waters. The waters’ flow has been moved, dammed, polluted over the years by industry and construction. Remediation efforts and growing awareness lift up the common gift that is water’s abundant offering to all life.

We stepped together into a Golden Ribbon circle to commit ourselves to see, hear, smell, touch and feel what the waters might tell us today. We shared some stories present and past of our familiarity with the waters. My granddaughters then selected large rocks on the creek to perch and lie on for quiet moments of observing and listening, and they amazed me with their sustained attention! Then we sat together to share our experience today of the waters and their surroundings.

“I didn’t like the trash in the water.”

“I think the river said we should be more careful and respectful because it was here long before us.”

“That thing floating near the construction part looks like a cannon. I know it’s not, but maybe the river remembers all the fighting done here. It makes me sad.”

“The tall DaVita building reminds me that poisoned river waters in the land are no less in need of care than the waters that flow through organs and tissues in our bodies.”

“Indigenous voices of today’s street artists tell stories on the walls with images that connect us to stories of Native Americans, colonial settlers and the voice of the waters.”

The girls loved creating the RadJoy bird, gathering refuse, twigs, feathers, and a bright blue piece of plastic, which they resolved to be the “beautiful body” of the RadJoy bird! We lifted up our mighty hands to “toast the waters” before departing the Golden Ribbon circle of our family GEx