Formed in 2016, The Schuylkill River and Urban Waters Research Corps is a public, cooperative research project organized by Peter DeCarlo (Drexel), Danielle Redden (Bartram's Garden), and Bethany Wiggin (Penn). Since its inception the Schuylkill Corps has brought together artists, historians, community organizers, students and scholars together in a bi-weekly seminar to discuss their research and creative practices revolving around one central focal point, the Schuylkill River.
We put together a brief questionnaire for each of our previous seminar participants that summons us back to the river – to share their perspectives, projects, and experiences on urban waters.
Bri Barton is an artist, witch, plant grower and organizer. Paired with artist Meg Lemieur, Bri lead an interactive art workshop on story-telling and activism, using their shared work, Waterways as a point of reference. Bri will also be involved in the 10-day Schuylkill Corps On-Water Intensive being held in June.
Schuylkill Corps: What is your relationship to urban waterways?
Bri Barton: I farm along the Delaware. I cross the Schuylkill or the Delaware almost every day. I see the three rivers as sacred to all life here in this area. I go to rivers or creeks when I need to grieve, seek guidance or express gratitude.
SC: How has this shaped or defined your work, research or creative practice?
BB: My work centers around racial and environmental justice as it relates to land, food, and water. I am a deep believer in mutual healing. We cannot be well while our water ways and food ways are unwell. Water Ways is part of the work that I do to spread awareness of the struggle for clean water and against natural gas in this region.
SC: What stands out to you about waterways that run through cities?
BB: How few creeks there are. Dams, walling off tributaries. Where did the water used to move? Lots of trash. And still people congregate at the water. It is where lovers walk to, and fishermen, and kids, and bird watchers. Humans will always be drawn to the water.
SC: From your perspective, what is the future of urban waterways?
BB: I imagine a city where water runs freely. The creeks are undammed and water is protected fiercely. I don't know what will happen between now and then, however.
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