Thanks for Helping
by Vonda Kay Brock
The Columbia River that separates the states of Washington and Oregon also binds us together. Not just with bridges but with spirit. A great grassroots victory proves that. A war made up of many battles and scrimmages proves that. A love for our environment, for our right to protect our home sites, for the pleasure and the commerce of that shared river that wends its way from streams and tributaries in Canada to its large and challenging destination onto the Pacific Ocean proves that.
The Columbia River nurtures brave hearts and courage and stamina. Its petroglyph "She Who Watches" nurtures the history of "ancient Indian eyes." It nourishes the Indian heart which most of all knows its soul. It nourishes those of us who have settled here, perhaps for generations, or yet for just a short time. It belongs to itself, but gives freely and unselfishly to all that it helps sustain.
In turn we must all help sustain that river. Progress is inevitable and has over time impacted and buffeted it. Dams, marine industry, international shipping, chemical pollution and even Mother Nature has challenged its spirit.
Yet it does not know anger. Its soul understands that though all of its fellow spirits do not swim or grow in its waters, they rely on its depth, its length, its swift current and its gateway to a wider world to sustain their own quest for living.
A Goliath came to the river and demanded that it kneel and bend to the wishes of progress. Progress that did not understand the links in a chain of flora and fauna and human kind that has learned to respect its soul. Progress that wanted to burrow under its bed, under streams and tributaries, through wetlands and bogs and fractured volcanic rocks, through privately owned land, sometimes historically held and past down from fathers to sons. And sometimes just small sites with individual family homes. But all for the sake of profit.
That is when the Columbia River became a path shared between the states of Washington and Oregon. That is when David challenged Goliath. That is when a five-year-long war never daunted those who make up the heart of this region. And that is when we once again learned the lesson of grassroots power. Thank you Washingtonians and Oregonians for your heart and your courage.
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