Like many American urban waterways, Ken-O-Sha has been in decline for nearly two hundred years. Once life-supporting, the waterway now known as Plaster Creek is life-threatening. In this provocative book, scholars and environmentalists Gail Gunst Heffner and David P. Warners explore the watershed’s ecological, social, spiritual, and economic history to determine what caused the damage, and describe more recent efforts to repair it. Heffner and Warners provide insight into the concept of reconciliation ecology, as enacted through their group, Plaster Creek Stewards,who together with community partners refuse to accept the status quo of a contaminated creek unfit for children’s play, severely reduced biological diversity, and environmental injustices. Their work reveals that reconciliation ecology needs to focus not only on repairing damaged human–nature relationships, but also on the relationships between people groups, including Indigenous North Americans and the descendants of European colonizers.
Gail Gunst Heffner is an emerita faculty member at Calvin University. She served as the director of community engagement in the Office of the Provost where she cofounded and codirected Plaster Creek Stewards. Heffner received the Urban Waters Learning Network’s Signature Award (2019).
David P. Warners has been at Calvin University since 1997 and has earned multiple awards for teaching and community service. Warners has authored over fifty scientific publications in the areas of botany, restoration ecology, conservation, and plant evolution. He cofounded and currently directs Plaster Creek Stewards. Warners received the Urban Waters Learning Network’s Signature Award (2019).
A fascinating and moving tale, and a fascinating and powerful book. Reconciliation ecology is a discipline we badly need, and its motto could well be “Unhealthy water reveals unhealthy relationships.” —Bill McKibben, author The End of Nature