Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie

Hey everyone! It's so great to be back from break and start a new semester with all of the wonderful River Stewards! To those of us co-oping and studying abroad - we miss you!

Last semester was such an amazing experience - I don't think I can fully describe it without going on FOREVER. I am so grateful to be a River Steward, with such amazing people, in such a beautiful region of the Midwest, with so many opportunities to embrace new ideas and actions in the community. Wow, that sounds so... official. But it's true and probably the only way I can sum it up without using the same four adjectives over and over. :)

If any of you are UD students or faculty or staff or currently residing in the Dayton area, you may know about Friday Night Films at ArtStreet. The line-up for this semester is awesome (Connected and The Help and I'm Not There, anyone?), but the film that particularly caught my eye was Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie, which will be screened on Friday, March 30 in ArtStreet Studio B at 9pm. It's a very cool-looking documentary about David Suzuki, a Canadian geneticist and professor who is known for his work in sustainable ecology. David Suzuki has a lot to teach us about the environment and our human impact on it. I'm very excited to see it, and I hope you'll consider seeing it, too!

River Love,

Force of Nature Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMKQBjgE0Tw

David Suzuki Foundation: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/

Thursday, January 19, 2012

RLC Update

The Fall 2011 semester ended successfully. Each student proposed a project that would be implemented on campus or in the community. The projects addressed the disciplines that were covered during the class and called on the students to assume leadership roles. A few of the projects proposed implementing low impact development techniques on campus and in the Dayton community, others focused on educating children in different Dayton communities on Dayton's rivers, watershed, and natural resources, and other projects proposed creating programs on campus that would expose other UD students to Dayton's rivers. We were very happy with the progress of the students throughout the semester as well as the final product of their projects.

Thank you to all the community partners and faculty members that helped make the semester such a success!

This semester, Spring 2012, students will carry out some of the projects that were proposed in the fall. Each student will have a deliverable by the end of the semester and may present their project at the Stander Symposium and the River Summit.

Check back on this blog for more updates on the progress of this semester's RLC.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hi everyone!

I am studying abroad this semester in Rome. I am going to miss being close to my river steward family. However, I hope that everyone will keep me informed with what is going on in Dayton and with The Rivers Institute.

The picture to the left is of the Tiber River, which is right across the street from the school I am attending. I plan to learn more about the Tiber to compare how the people in Italy use the river in comparison to how the people of Dayton use the numerous rivers that surround it. I hope everyone had a nice break and has a good spring semester.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What a Semester Apart has Taught me

Reflecting back on this semester I realized that River Stewards is a larger part of my life than I thought. Since I was Co-oping this semester I was not able to attend many of the River Steward activities. Though I was apart form the River Steward family for the entire semester I still was able to be apart of what my cohort was doing. It showed me how well our cohort works together. I was filled in on what went on in cohort meetings and got to have a say in picking our senior project. While co-oping it gave me time to reflect on what I plan on doing once I am done with school. With River Stewards I am able to reach out and connect with the community, bond with my cohort, and be exposed to issues that I have become passionate towards. All these are traits and characteristics that I want to be part of my career as an engineer or any other profession I chose. I knew this from the start, but by being a Stew it has only made it more clear to me as individual that I want my career and lifestyle to be molded around the beliefs and characteristics of River Stewards. And I cant wait for spring semester to start so I can be with my cohort and fellow River Stews once again!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Reflections on the Past Year

One of the things I like to do at the beginning of each year is to sit down and reflect on the year that just passed. As I did this, I realized just how much being a River Steward influenced my year and how much I enjoyed it. Without a doubt, some of my favorite memories involve my fellow River Stewards; and seeing that I wasn't a River Steward until August, I think that certainly says a lot.

The school year started with the infamous River Stewards Orientation. On the first day all the Baby Stews were introduced to each other, and though I already knew some of them, we were all fast friends thanks to bonding activities that involved 16 people standing on a block smaller than 2 ft X 2 ft and carrying each other across about 15 ft. Once all the Baby Stews knew each other, we were introduced to the older Stews, and the fun just continued. Eventually came the day of the paddle, and with it came the fun of casually drifting down the river (with or without a boat), all the Baby Stew guys having to jump out of their boat thanks to a lost bet, or singing Wagon Wheel by the fire with everyone.

Later on in the year came another fun paddling adventure when the Baby Stews went on our own paddle on Halloween weekend. With everyone dressed from Huckleberry Finn to a voyageur (I hope I spelled that right, Connie) to the Grim Reaper, we headed down the river for the first time as a cohort by ourselves, and this was truly an adventure. At one point, we even just pulled the kayaks over and went exploring (above are a couple photos from it).

All in all, these are just two of the memories that really stick out in my mind when I'm reflecting on the year. Other great memories include going to Wegerzyn Gardens with all the River Stewards, working at the event formerly known as Gearfest and tearing off the old shirts to reveal the new ones with James, and "brainstorming ideas" for next semester.

I can't wait for all the fun i'll have with the River Stewards in the future.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Perspective

Everything is dry. Even the air is dry, suffocating you as you step outside into the sun that burns all year round in this country. Whether the weather is scorching hot or freezin cold, the atmosphere is always arid. Where I come from water is extremely scare. In Chihuahua you can be arrested for watering your plants during certain times of the year and if you're ever caught wasting water, let's say in a water gun fight, you can count on being sanctioned.

I grew up in this city without water. I always saw the fact that I couldn't expect water to come out of the faucet when I turned it on as something normal. I never really took the time to consider the implications of the water issues Chihuahua faces. I never paid attention to Chihuahua's rivers and I was barely even aware of their existence. I guess I've always known that Chihuauha has issues with water, only because I have lived this reality, but I never took the time to think about what this meant, what the causes might be, and what the social, economic, aesthetic, and environmental consequences might be. Being a River Steward has made me look at my birthplace in a different way. During that time I spent in Chihuahua this past winter break, I couldn't drive past my city's rivers without a million thoughts starting in my head.

Becoming a River Steward has changed the way that I look at a lot of things. Before I was a Stew I would have never considered what it means that the Rio Chuviscar has been canalized. This river runs in a straight line through the heart of downtown Chihuahua and no longer has any of its natural banks wherever it runs through urban areas. Surrounded by pavement, its lined with sidewalks instead of trees or greenery. In fact, there isn't much of a river left at all. It's been reduced to a pathetic trickle of water that entirely disappears in some places. The river's lack of a floodplain, among other things, has also caused some serious flooding in the past that has even resulted in the loss of lives. I wonder what the river's health would be like had its natural state been respected and maintained. Another river in Chihuahua is the Rio Sacramento. This river eventually connects with the Rio Chuviscar. Although it's in a much better state, I still wouldn't denote it as healthy.

My experiences at the Rivers Institute have definitely shaped the way that I think and the way that I see my hometown. I am aware of the fact that Chihuahua faces a lot of problems, but its water issues are certainly at the forefront and I am thankful for the new perspective I have gained on these. I am more motivated now to look more into the city's history with its rivers. I want to learn about the city's waste water treatment process and I want to learn where our drinking water comes from. Being a River Steward has shown me that there are a million doors for me to open and it has planted a seed of motivation and thirst for knowledge within me.

Not only has being involved with the Rivers Institute granted me a reformed perspective on Chihuahua and given me new considerations to pursue, I have also learned a great deal about the city of Dayton and its rivers. I've acquired a sense of ownership for the city of Dayton, appreciating all that it has to offer. I'm proud and glad to be living in the city of Dayton. Never before had I appreciated how important and vital rivers can be to a community. Seeing the way Dayton has chosen to embrace its rivers is revitalizing and inspiring.

Being a part of the Rivers Institute has been an incredible opportunity for more reasons than one. I have met a lot of cool people, I've become more environmentally conscious, I have developed new ways of seeing communities, and my appreciation for water has only increased. I remember starting out the semester feeling overwhelmed by all of the river and water terminology that was being thrown at me. I never knew there was so much that went into a water system. A semester of the RLC and being a River Steward have truly expanded my pool of knowledge. But I am excited to grow and learn more as I continue in my journey downstream with the Rivers Institute.

This is the Rio Chuviscar, which runs through the heart of the city and has been canalized where it flows through urban areas.

This is the Rio Sacramento, which runs down the west edge of the city.

Flower Ortega

Monday, January 2, 2012

Let the New Year Ring with River Ramblings!

December 31st, I celebrated the coming of 2012 sitting around the kitchen table talking with several of my good friends from Chicago. The night was pleasant and surprisingly warm.  At one point in the night we simply sat there calmly, feeling the city air waft through the window, until my friend Helen broke the silence with a chirpy question, "So what was everyone's high and low in 2011?"As I pondered what could be my high and low I was surprised at how quickly the high of my year came to mind.  I'm the type of person who really likes to think things out and I usually don't make quick decisions.  So, after forcing myself to consider some lesser alternatives I knew that without a doubt the best part of my year was becoming a River Steward.

I'm proud of being a River Steward.  At every Christmas gathering this year my Aunts and Uncles asked me how school is and I would go straight into a story involving the Rivers Institute.  This past semester in Dayton I've met tons of new people and made many new friends.  The Cohort of 2014, that I became a part of this year, is comprised of quality students who are all eager to get more involved in the community.   The cohorts above have been wonderful role models and I will never forget how welcoming they were to me and the rest of the "Baby Stews" throughout the entire semester.  I am constantly being motivated to stay involved on campus and perform my best by the goodness of all my peers.

Ever since I arrived to the University of Dayton as a timid little Freshman my time here has gotten better and better.  I attribute this to the increasing number of opportunities I have received, starting with applying to be a River Steward.  From the moment I was accepted in to the program I could feel its welcoming nature.  Our Orientation Paddle down the Miami River opened my eyes to the true potential of the City of Dayton, the University of Dayton, and my education for the first time.  Since then, I have felt blessed with the means to easily get involved with City of Dayton and its surrounding environment.  I have been able to Kayak with the Dayton Rotary Club, teach Girl Scouts how to Canoe, Volunteer for Five Rivers Metro Park and watch my fellow River Stewards become involved in and initiate other opportunities such as a Boy Scout paddle down the Great Miami River (that will hopefully take place this summer), teaching special needs students in the Dayton area to Kayak, launching the bike renting program at the Rec Plex, and designing a mobile river museum to teach students in the Dayton area about their watershed. I've also had the privilege of becoming the intern for Ohio's Great Corridor Association (OGCA) , which has allowed me to become even more involved with the Dayton Community.  On that note, the only thing that makes me happier than thinking of all the things I have done this semester with the River Stewards is thinking of all the things I will be able to do next semester! So, I write this reflection looking forward to a new year filled with kayaking, River Ramblings (the OGCA newsletter), River Mobiles, and the 5th Annual River Summit! Thank you for reading and supporting the Rivers Institute and your rivers!

Yours with great anticipation,

Connie Reda, Cohort 2014