River Talk


Film Premiere!
Saturday, Nov 12, 2016
4:00pm – 7:00pm

Not sure how many have tuned in to this one yet… It seems like an excellent opportunity for those of us who are trying to learn to think like a watershed.

Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers will premiere on November 12th at 4 p.m. Come on out for a viewing of the documentary and a discussion Q&A with panelists. The event will be held in the Theatre on the Square at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts and an RSVP would be appreciated if you are planning to attend.

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Using the Right Measure

maxresdefaultEverybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
– Albert Einstein

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image1On Saturday morning, September 10th, members of the EECOI met at the confluence of the White and Puyallup Rivers to experience reflective practice skills and spend some time listening to the river. It was a beautiful morning, with a kingfisher, killdeer, ducks and a crow visiting us on the river bank. We hope you can join us in the future. If you’d like to be involved or hear more about reflective practice and how it can help us achieve our goals for the Puyallup Watershed Initiative, please email Monty at msmithlok@yahoo.com.

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Nature 101

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are numerous municipal parks and wild areas scattered around the watershed, little (and large) ecosystems where nature can still be seen in something that closely resembles an undisturbed condition. This access to nature can be a difficult proposition in the more urban areas, but even here you can still find pockets of green that are available to local residents.

In Tacoma, one of these locations where you can get up close to nature is Snake Lake, home to the Nature Center, a Metro Parks facility (1919 S. Tyler St, Tacoma). There are trails that run alongside the lake and on up into the hills behind it, winding through thick foliage, alive with the sounds of birds and the sibilant breezes in the tall firs and hemlocks. Native plants and trees provide a peaceful oasis in the city as well as learning opportunities for kids and adults alike.

Nature 101 is a program offered by the Nature Canter that introduces people to their environment by teaching participants about birds, plants, insects and other Northwest natives in the environments that they call home. As part of the training, participants are also given skills that will help them share the things they learn with others, whether in a classroom, with their families or out on the trail somewhere. (This series of evening sessions is open to all individuals, 18 years or older.)

For families, the Nature Center is offering the Snake Lake Family Adventure Quest, a team event that tests knowledge, creativity and physical skills on the trails of Snake Lake. Navigational proficiency and a growing understanding of the natural world go together in this activity, along with fun for the entire family.

Nature 101 will take place on seven different evenings (almost all of them Wednesdays), beginning on September 21st and running through October 26th. Cost is $100 ($90 for members) or $20 per session. Clock hours are available. The Family Adventure Quest is scheduled for Sunday, September 25th and is open to family teams with up to four members each. Children must be accompanied by an adult and the cost is $10 per person. Registration for this event ends on September 22nd, so don’t delay. For more information on these and other Nature Center programs, contact briannac@tacomaparks.com or call 253.591.6439.


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Gathering at the River

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis Saturday, September 10th, the EECOI faculty for Reflective Practices is hosting a time of contemplation and a chance to “… cherish what connects us,” at the river’s edge in Puyallup. This meeting is open to all members of the PWI and is intended to be a time of exploration and celebration of the connections between our different communities and the unique ties we all have with the watershed.

The event is scheduled to run from 9-11 am on Sept. 10th. Instructions are to meet at 3207 East Main, Puyallup (in the parking lot behind Mama Stortini’s restaurant), and walk the short distance from there down to a sandbar in the river where the gathering will take place. RSVPs are appreciated and can be made by either a text to 253.389.4589 or by an email to¬†msmithlok@yahoo.com



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diversity-in-pr2As part of the EECOI’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the way it is organized and in the programs that it supports, ongoing training is being offered at several points over the next few months. These are opportunities for increasing personal literacy about issues of inclusion and learning how to cultivate the leadership skills needed to grow the PWI.

Discussions will focus on modeling ways of leading conversations on race, gender, orientation, identity, age, class and ability. Two diversity dialogues are currently scheduled: September 23 and October 22. Both sessions will be held at Centro Latino from 9 am-12 noon. To register, contact Jenn Grimm at jenngrimmpwi@gmail.com

Environmental education is intertwined with environmental health and justice. It is not possible for the EECOI to move forward in our stated goals without the active understanding, participation and support of all members. Discovering the strengths of our differences is a key part of that success. See you there!

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Road Trip

Palapa+Party+sketchbook+jserrettAs the summer winds down, you may find that you have time for one last adventure, one final road trip, before summer morphs into fall. If this is the case, and I hope that it is, there should be no question in your mind as to the correct course of action. It’s hard to overemphasize this point. Some months from now, as you are sitting and looking out some window at the rain peppering the pavement and worrying about how far behind you’ve fallen on that one particular project, you will be able to think back to that last road trip of the 2016 summer and smile, knowing you made the right decision.

Where are you going?

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The New Environmental Paradigm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen it comes to environmental education, finding the right starting point is critical, especially if you have some idea of where you’d like to end up. The New Environmental Paradigm Scale was put together back in the 1970’s by two sociologist researchers from WSU and it is still widely used today. It has been modified on occasion and there are versions that are slightly different from one another but the idea behind its collection of statements is that respondents will paint an accurate picture of their thoughts on the environment by the way they answer. It gets to the heart of basic environmental concepts, that humans represent only one among many species on Earth, that human activities are determined by the environment as well as by social and cultural factors, and that humans are strongly dependent upon the environment and its resources.

  1. We are approaching the limit of the number of people the earth can support.
  2. The balance of nature is very delicate and easily upset.
  3. Humans have the right to modify the natural environment.
  4. Humankind was created to rule over the rest of nature.
  5. When humans interfere with nature it often produces disastrous consequences.
  6. Plants and animals exist primarily to be used by humans.
  7. To maintain a healthy economy we will have to develop a “steady state” economy where industrial growth is controlled.
  8. Humans must live in harmony with nature in order to survive.
  9. The earth is like a spaceship with only limited room and resources.
  10. Humans need not adapt to the natural environment because they can remake it to suit their needs.
  11. There are limits to growth beyond which our industrialized society cannot expand.
  12. Mankind is severely abusing the environment.

You could teach a lesson on every one of these statements and how our perceptions of each shows what our thoughts are in relation to the planet. It’s an interesting start to the discussion, whether in the classroom or in any other setting.

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imagesThe Perseid meteor extravaganza is winding down, but the displays in the night sky have been fantastic. With a 9 year-old in the house, it’s been a great opportunity to explain things like comets, the atmosphere, friction and the difference between meteors and meteorites. It’s also been a great opportunity to drink Irish coffee and fall asleep on the deck, which has been a lot of fun as well.

The timing of a lesson is just as important as the content. Here in the Northwest, we have a wide variety of natural events that, like the Perseids, are regular enough that they can provide texture and context to lessons. The return of salmon, the early summer convening of the resident orca pods, even things like solstice, equinox and the changing of the seasons: these and more give ample opportunities for discussion and learning with a high level of natural support. While it might not be necessary to plan an entire school year around specific natural events, structuring some lessons around special occasions not only enhances learning, but it can also provide a frame of reference for larger topics.

And, if you play your cards right, there might even be some Irish coffee involved.


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Dog Days

DogDaysofSummerBible_zpseb0550d5It’s somewhere around here, that time of the summer when it seems like it’s all just going to keep going like this forever. The “dog days,” they call them, and although here in the Northwest this summer has been anything but hot and sultry, it has been mostly relaxing.

With all this relaxation going on, it’s hard to believe that another school year is just a few dog days away. But it is. It’s a time to look backwards as well as forwards, and it brings up a couple of questions:

  1. What did you do this summer that was most regenerating, exciting, or otherwise fulfilling, that will continue to have an influence on you after the summer has passed?
  2. What are you going to do this school year (whether you’re a teacher, student, parent or other), that you are most looking forward to?

Think about it, then comment on one or both questions. All comments will be posted and fittingly rewarded with swag.

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