I’m currently traveling with the Ohio River asking who she is and what she needs while documenting the answers I hear at TheOhioRiverSpeaks.org.
Originally named Ohi:yo’ – “beautiful river” – by the Seneca, the Ohio River is now the United States’ most polluted river. The dominant culture teaches us to view natural beings like the Ohio River as objects to be used, consumed, and destroyed for human benefit. This is a primary reason the destruction of the natural world is intensifying. How would our relationship to the natural world change if, instead of viewing nonhumans as objects, we viewed them as living beings capable of speaking to us? As allies who desire to communicate valuable lessons to us?
My name is Will Falk. I am the author of How Dams Fall: On Representing the Colorado River in the First-Ever American Lawsuit Seeking Rights for a Major Ecosystem and a practicing rights of Nature attorney. Rights of Nature advocates work to transform the legal system so that it recognizes the “personhood” of natural beings. For the rest of 2020, I will travel through the Ohio River Basin asking the Ohio River the two questions I ask any client who steps into my office: “Who are you?” And, “What do you need?” I will document the answers the Ohio River gives me with photos, writing, and recordings on this website. As I build a personal relationship with the Ohio River, I hope to bolster the hearts of all those fighting so hard to protect what’s left of the natural world.