Recently, Kevin Powers, vice-chair of the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District, called me asking about the “solidarity fish,” so I went even a little further and arranged for a meeting with Kevin, his wife, (Martin County School Board Member), Marsha Powers, and artist/writer extraordinaire, —Janeen Mason.
Sometimes in my world, it is best not to ask questions. It is best just to “do.” Knowing this timing and following my intuition is an important part of my mission in trying to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon…
Janeen Mason was a sport, and we met with my giving her little notice— she brought some of her beautiful, colorful, skeleton fish that have come to symbolize the river movement along the Indian River Lagoon. In fact, her idea is spreading across the state as she is called by others seeking advice on how to start such a “school,” (http://www.solidarityarts.com) as so many others across Florida have water issues too.
When Janeen met the Powers at their home, it was a wonderful thing for me, as I was able to learn her story which I had never really heard. (http://www.janeenmason.com)
Janeen told of being a young person, seeing the tropical fish in the Florida Keys for the very first time, and the powerful impression they made upon her young mind. She has carried this image with her through out her life, and most recently transposed it into the river movement in response to our “Lost Summer” of 2013 when the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) dumped polluted Lake Okeechobee water for five months (on top of area canal runoff) into the St Lucie River, causing horrific, toxic conditions in our and the Calooshatchee estuary.
Since this era, the solidarity fish have been associated with the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon “river movement,” the River Warriors, and many others. Even Martin County used the symbol to decorate their holiday tree. There are bumper stickers and T-shirts you will see just about everywhere displaying the fish, colorful on one side, and a skeleton on the other….
These fish, you see in the photos on the Capitol steps, have been hand painted by hundreds of children and concerned adults; displayed at the Elliott Museum; on the River Warriors’ Christmas/Holiday float in the City of Stuart parade; and even last year Washington DC!
The fish are art in its purest form: “transformative and inspirational…”
So when Kevin Powers asked about the fish, I asked no questions. I saw an opportunity to help the District “catch a fish,” our fish, the solidity fish of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
I believe, soon they will be swimming their way into some very powerful waters….. 🙂
Question posed to River Kid: “So do you think you’ll become a politician?”
“Ummm..no…but I think I’ll be a better public speaker….:)”
This blog post is a follow-up to yesterday’s: “Tallahassee or Bust! River Kidz and the Clean Water Rally, Tallahassee, 2015.”
Yesterday, River Mom, Nic Mader, dropped off Naia, Olivia, Keile and I in front of the state capitol building for the Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally…The sounds of speakers and music filled the air; the bright colors and black skeletons of Janeen Mason’s Solidarity Fish project could be seen in the distance….(http://www.solidarityarts.com); various members of the RIVER WARRIORS, and others, came up to say “hello;” it was a cool, bright, sunny day and a sense of history exuded from every giant oak tree draped with spanish moss….
“Girls stop.” I said.
Naia, 14, Olivia, 13, and Keile, 10 turned around and looked at me inquisitively.
“River Kidz, I want you to look around you for a minute. I want to share something with you that you may not think too much about… “THIS is part of the First Amendment, of the United States of America: “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government”…not all countries of the world allow this. My friend Aletha Jones teaching in China in 1989 when their government brought tanks into Tiananmen Square opening fire. Our country and our form of government, have many failures…but our “right to assemble” is key to what is “good” in our democracy….Participate today and know, you too, are a part of this great history of our country ….”
The rally was a message to the governor and the legislature to spend those monies as is intended within the language of the bill. For those of us coming from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon Region, this means spending some of this money to purchase option lands south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and convey water south to the Everglades, in time, saving the dying estuaries of St Lucie/IRL and Caloosahatchee rivers.
Before the capitol and on its stairs, were people from all over the state; we even saw Dr Bob Knight, a legend in the springs movement. Most of Florida’s springs have been equally deviated by poor “water” decisions by state, federal and local governments.
It was a whirlwind of a day. The River Kidz were able speak at the rally; write short speeches, and to present them before Representative Larry Lee, Senator Joe Negron, and then, again, at the Senate Natural Resources Committee. They passed out their new River Kidz Second Edition Workbook, “Marty the Manatee” inspired by Mr Marty Baum, the Treasure Coast Indian Riverkeeper.
It was a good day.
Did we feel “warm and fuzzy feedback” regarding our request for option land purchase in the Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA) south of Lake Okeechobee?
Did I hear such things as “Steve Crisafulli, the House Speaker may want to be the Commissioner of Agriculture, and Adam Putnam does want to be governor.”….”agriculture/sugar does not want to sell the land now”—“and believe you me they are 20 years ahead the rest of you investing millions, if not billions of dollars, on a state and national level—–to influence politicians”…..”but its not all doom and gloom—things are moving”—–“and the subsiding EAA lands”—-“oh yes, and the future of Cuba,” “you never know—- maybe”…..”it’s changing so fast…”the advocacy along the Treasure Coast is noticed and making a difference…”
YES. I did hear such things….
🙂 (I will never reveal my sources but I can tell you I have good ones and spoke to many people…..)
Did we, the River Kidz: did I Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, and River Mom , Nichole Mader find “this” discouraging?
“Yes, and No.”
Yes, because coming up against any wall is never fun when one is looking to go forward…
Nonetheless, I also know, and have been told, all this pushing IS having effect. I also know it may push the “powers that be” faster into what-ever-it-is that breaks this wall of historical government/agriculture “self-interest,” because water and the flood gates of the people will in time bring it down.
Of that I am certain.
Thank you River Kidz! Thank you all! For securing a better water future!
The River Warriors recently contacted me to tell me that they now have an office, and that I was invited to make Solidarity Fish T-shirts for those walking tomorrow in the Stuart Christmas Parade beside the River Warrior Float. They also invited me to sit on this float along with other River Warrior Ancients. 🙂
I was honored and intrigued….an office? So, yesterday evening, I drove to 745 NW Federal Highway, right over the north side of the Roosevelt Bridge, very close to the St Lucie River.
What I saw almost brought tears to my eyes! A true River Warrior office with energetic elf like River Warriors working away!
There were kids and adults and music and all sorts of river and political posters on the walls…busy River Warriors applying acrylic paint to brightly colored T-shirts, and others blowing the paint creations dry with blow dryers, and then neatly folding the shirts on a long straight table…
When the River Elves saw me, they joyously exclaimed, “It’s Jacqui!” Let’s make her a red, white and blue fish!”
I stood there in amazement. “This is so awesome…am I dreaming?”
There was Gayle Ryan at the door, the power-house behind getting the space…Julie Williams who was instrumental in the storefront donation…Marty Baum, the Indian Riverkeeper, and his girl friend Robin and their friends and a huge Santa Clause sitting in the corner. There were children cutting out manatees, dolphins, and sea turtle shapes…
The fluorescent lights juxtaposed to the darkness outside made everything seem brighter…I read every poster on the wall as a flood of memories came back to me….
“So, in 2013 we had the toxic “Lost Summer;” the people had an uprising, and now they, “we,” have an office? Holy Cow!”
With my head spinning, I took great pleasure in seeing a huge flag that read DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP!
Artist Janeen Mason’s art also covered the walls; she is the originator of the Solidarity Fish that the River Warriors use as their symbol. (http://www.solidarityarts.com) These fish will tonight be part of Christmas tree lighting in Washington DC! Janeen is a marketing genius.
It’s official. Solidarity for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is here to stay along the Treasure Coast, hopefully in Washington DC, and in our local government offices too! A couple of days ago, I received this holiday card from the “Martin County Ecosystem Restoration and Management Division.” They made their own solidarity fish T-Shirts. Go Deb Drum and Team!
After a short time, when my shirt was ready, I put it on right over my dress: I was so exited! I am so thrilled to see so much passion for the river one year after the releases by the ACOE and SFWMD from Lake Okeechobee and C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44 that killed our river.
Well no one will stop us now….we will in time bring our river back.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a yet another Solidarity New Year for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!