It’s been a very good summer along the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s emerging Headwaters to Plains Network. We are making progress on establishing an inner-city Denver library, one that will celebrate nature-in-the-city, and all the allied fields of urban homesteading.
At our headwaters site (on the banks of the South Platte River) we still have a few more weeks to go in our first summer at Buffalo Peaks Ranch (pictured above). Over two hundred people have toured the ranch in the past few months, seeing first hand the hayloft that will soon be a Western History Library, the beautiful old lambing barn that will house a Natural History Library, and much more
We’re also making room for a special Watershed Library, full of books on water and watersheds. Water has always been one of the central themes of the Land Library, at both ends of the South Platte River. And “thinking like a watershed” seems like one of the very best ways of living on the land — just the right focus for all of us to celebrate the beauties, joys, and responsibilities of living on earth.
For us, Jack and Celestia Loeffler’s Thinking Like a Watershed: Voices from the West, is a book we have been waiting for. Through their interviews with writers, historians, farmers, tribal and community leaders, they uncover the resiliency we all need to face the environmental challenges ahead. Often the lessons learned in this book come from the past — from visionaries such as John Wesley Powell, whose Watershed Map (1890-91) is also pictured above.
Our Watershed Library is likely to be in the old gray steel sheds (on the right side of the ranch photo above). It will house wonderful books such as these:
The Platte: Channels in Time by Paul A. Johnsgard, along with many, many river & watershed stories from across the country, such as Daniel McCool’s comprehensive River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers.
As much as we need a Watershed Library today, we will need it even more in the years ahead. Water will surely be a central issue for the next century. That’s one of our motivations to continually add books such as these to our shelves:
Maude Barlow’s Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever, and one of our all-time favorite water books — this one’s for kids (and adults too): Our World of Water: Children and Water Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer.
We’re always looking for good ways to tell the water story. One way is to tell all the other stories well. For instance, when the Land Library helps tell the story of urban farming, we are also stressing the importance of fresh water. When we celebrate a watershed’s wildlife, we make the strong link to all the ecological benefits water bestows.
Here’s one last book that we especially love — a joyous collection of riparian writings from England:
Caught by the River: A Collection of Words on Water, edited by Jeff Barrett and Robin Turner, featuring Roger Deakin, Chris Yates, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, and Irvine Welsh, among others. This book also includes wonderful imaginative watershed images from artist John Richardson. Every watershed should be the happy subject of words and images such as these!
For more on the long ties of water, people and the land, learn about it from the ancient perspective: