This year, 2020, I once again, returned to the banks of the Ohio River near Green Bottom, WV for my Global Earth Exchange. The Ohio River is the most polluted River in the nation and serves as a water source for more than 5 million people. I reflected on the gifts this river has provided not only me, but generations, including native Americans—as well as the gift of life to numerous aquatic species and those that depend on them. I mourned the tragedy of excess pollution, the historic damming of the river which allows the barging of hazardous materials (coal, oil, gas and other poisonous chemicals), the reliance by polluting industries on the disposal of their toxic waste into the river, and the continued efforts by industrialists and politicians to turn our region into a second “cancer alley,” promoting the construction of new petro-chemical facilities in our region.
I felt a sense of peace sitting by this river of my childhood and even a sense of hope as millions of people are fighting for their very lives during this unprecedented corona virus pandemic—to end the pandemic of centuries of systemic racism, and all the brave souls standing strong against forces that continue to despoil our air, water and land.
Before I left, I asked for a parting thought from the river. The Ohio River has one clear message: Wounded people make for wounded rivers. Healing ourselves is the first and perhaps the hardest step we need to take.
P.S. I removed the self. Thanks!