By Darcy Buendia
The T-107 public access site of the Duwamish river is a refreshingly green oasis within Seattle’s industrial district, and I would never have known, without being told, that this oasis only exists thanks to countless volunteer hours put in over the course of years. Scores of volunteers were here this morning to participate in Duwamish Alive, an annual community clean-up event. We Teach-Out participants were each tasked to remove specific invasive weeds from various nooks and crannies around the site. I was removing a patch of buttercup that had sprawled out over a space about the size a parking spot. It was the kind of work that teeters between meditative and tedious. When we gathered for lunch, it was hard not to feel like my contribution of a few square feet of weeding was pretty meager. It was the perfect time for James Rasmussen, coordinator of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, to offer a fitting metaphor for our efforts. He said that the Duwamish river is like a sick friend, and we were its loving visitors. He reaffirmed that the river is absolutely alive and, while we couldn’t undo a century of wrongdoing in a day, our presence was felt. Read the rest of Darcy’s report here.
Alberto Rodriguez, program manager at the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, was also on hand to offer a historical overview of the river and its community. I, not living very close to the river, have no day to day interaction with the ecosystem. Alberto described himself as an amplifier for the voices of those who do intimately interact with the river, especially those who depend on the river’s toxic fish for sustenance.
After the break it was time to plant natives in place of the removed invasives. Back at my weed patch it was satisfying to help thimbleberry and native onion usurp the buttercup. It was also more satisfying to work with Alberto’s words in the back of my mind. At the day’s end I would go home to Queen Anne, but I would never stop being a part of the Duwamish.
Duwamish Alive is an annual clean up event, but regular work parties are happening all the time. To become a part of the Duwamish River, check out this website. To learn more about the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition visit here.