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Clear Your Throat

Most creeks and rivers in the country have been exploited, used for profit, dammed for recreation or flood control and yet people claim them.

But for the last 40 plus years, it has been rare that any single person has said, yeah, that’s my creek, that’s where I go to reflect, for meditation, to bird-watch, to catch minnows, watch for tadpoles, or where I send my kids when I need to get them out of the house.

None of those words. Nothing.

It is like she was never born. Like the “bad” uncle no one talks about anymore.

I have pondered this for decades. And finally, I understand. It is shame.

Shame is a powerful feeling, one that we have involuntarily.

We are ashamed of her. Like in the old days, as if she did something wrong, yes, but really we feel shame for her for what was done to her.

But we harbor that shame in silence. We don’t speak her name anymore.

As a waterkeeper, my role is to be the advocate for my waterbody, to speak for Tar Creek and I am telling you I need your help.

You don’t have to carry the shame of what Tar Creek had been and isn’t now. It is not her fault it was done to her. She doesn’t want to be this way.

As the line in one of Maryann Hurtt’s poems goes, “I didn’t always look this way…”

Tar Creek longs to have company, to be cared for, to have friends again.

And that is why LEAD Agency is applying for one of the EPA’s Community Change Grants.

In a superfund site, and with one named for the creek that splits Miami in two, for a community that is losing their treasured Riverview Park because of another thing that is being done to us causing the flooding that makes our Tar Creek dowse us and saturate us with her heavy metals during those times, it was absolutely obvious we needed community change.

What we have done is to pull a number of people together in a room around a table to dream what on earth could change us and how could landscape designers help us.  And what could they design for $10- 20 million dollars?

I apologize for not inviting your input before now. I lost my voice for the last month. It seemed as if my brain had a head cold and refused to spin out written words. But there is still time.

Dream with us. What could make our community change?

We could base back to nature. In a city that was built between a river and creek, the city was built treasuring water. For the last half century, we have been harmed by that dammed water and lost property, homes and precious heirlooms.

What if we could change this? LEAD is pushing for the BIG CLEAN UP of the superfund site, as you know. We think that would be faster if we had a whole county YELLING, but we understand that is hard and seems fruitless. LEAD will keep yelling, and if you want to, you are always welcome.

But let’s talk about this community change, what can we do now with the help of $10-20 million dollars?

Some of the dreams we claimed were ways to connect safely with Tar Creek.

What if you picture Riverview Park long, stretched from Commerce and North Miami all the way through Miami and connect this elongated park to the project the county has planned with the trail all the way down to the Dollar Store south of town?

Imagine pavilions for birthday parties and park benches and small amphitheaters along that corridor safely built to keep your feet dry but to enjoy the beauty that the untamed parts of the city have hidden.

Stephanie Addis is already dreaming this and hosting Yoga classes at the edge of Tar Creek. Abigail, the Oklahoma University student is already training John Holt to recognize the birds by sight and by song. There is life and beauty right there among us. But for now, and the next couple of decades Tar Creek can’t be used to swim or fish. We get that. But it doesn’t mean STAY AWAY, it means come be a cheerleader and want it better for the future your grandchildren deserve.

So, call or stop by LEAD Agency, message us your ideas for the community change you hope landscape designers can bring. We have 2 Harvard Landscape design studio projects AND the design we will have revealed on June 6. But there is still time to add your ideas. But we cannot read your mind.

Now, you know I am back, demanding your help again.

Respectfully Submitted,

Rebecca Jim


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