Chesapeake Citizens: Re-imagining our Watershed
This website is an archive of my practice in arts and organizing for change in relation to this place, the Chesapeake Bay Bioregion. Art for change – anywhere – is an essential assertion of our liberty.
To borrow the first line from a poem written by Emily Dickinson, “I dwell in possibility.” She wrote this poem in 1861, at the start of the Civil War.
In our equally troubled times, I propose that we re-imagine the Chesapeake Bay Watershed back to its 16,000-plus year role as life sustainer for all, then forward to the next 16,000 years, while honoring anew the first peoples in this watershed. and others, including enslaved communities and their descendents, whose labor has never been compensated, and to whom reparations are long overdue. These will go a long way toward healing our profoundly beautiful, but troubled region and United States.
Because of my holistic approach to dwelling in possibility and because the issues are related to our embodied experiences of this place, the Chesapeake bioregion, shape-shifting across topics and creative forms – as well as working with others to invent new combinations of forms/media and actions – seems just right.
My nature rights and justice advocacy work began when I joined the Paris branch of Friends of the Earth and later became involved in the anti-nuclear movement. Weaving interdisciplinary arts into the mix began with Platform’s Still Waters, an award-winning project that re-framed London as a bioregion. I’ve been doing arts for change and creative organizing in relation to place ever since.
(Photo below is from United Workers Healthcare Justice Play Credit: United Workers Media Team)
I am blessed to work with generous others whose marvelous partnership and collaboration are evident throughout this archive: that explains the name “Chesapeake Citizens.”
Below is just a sampling of what’s here:
- 2005: At a Carnegie Mellon University conference, I talked about our Progressive Cabinet government project, the Iraq War, Charles Dickens, and Shell Oil’s longstanding criminal corporate behavior in Nigeria. Read it Delta to Delta: Reclaiming the Fertile Republic of our Imagination.
- 2007: We performed a community anti-war dance, and a poetic related banner with audio.
- 2008: At a Stop-the-Iraq-War Speak Out and at Dissident Voice, I explored the historic importance of the arts in challenging the status quo An Artful Rage Machine to end the War .
- 2011: My article on teaching art Arts and Democracy Bazaar: Challenging the School-to-prison Path.
- 2013: I organized Baltimore’s first Fossil Fuel Free Forum called “Tracing the Oil Road: Global Lessons and Bioregional Resistance” See follow up article “It Exists because it Exists: Bioregional Activism in the Chesapeake Watershed.”
- 2015: Environmental justice support work: Working with Free Your Voice group to Stop the Incinerator in Curtis Bay, Baltimore and replace it a clean energy, local-job-creating positive alternative plan.
- 2015: Framing our art 🙂 to Stop Cove Point – Dominion Energy’s awful plan to build an LNG facility on our precious Chesapeake Bay.
- 2015 onward: Disappearing Drawings: mixing paper discs with native flower seeds, drawing what’s to appear, then planting and inviting others to plant through strategic seed sowing . As of December 2015, at least 100 small discs have been planted in the Baltimore region, perhaps close to 200!
Here’s to re-imagining! Here’s to an abundant Chesapeake Bioregion for every one.
~ Diane Wittner