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.
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