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Dear Cousin

“I believe in living in a land of little water because life is drawn together.”

—Terry Tempest Williams

Animas River above Eureka, Colorado

Dear Cousin,

I hope the springtime is treating you well.

I hope your rivers have begun to swell like they’re supposed to and that the land they run through is fertile and healthy and balanced.

I hope your mountains have managed to cradle winter snow and that your winds blow through canyons chasing rivers that flow to the sea.

I hope maybe you’ll join me in the melt—in the cool, clear waters of the Rockies that felt so boundless when we were young.

The same cold waters that stung my hands as I learned to fish and carved canyons in which we learned to be playful, and curious, and humble.

Yes, I hope your rivers are running free and clean.

And I hope they’ve carved a canyon that makes you feel small because above all else, humility is needed right now.

We’ve come to learn that our waters have never been boundless,

and in the rivers of the American West we’ve found this great wound.

It’s as wide and as deep as the Grand Canyon.

It oozes like uranium and gold mine pollution.

It aches like 20 years of drought.

It breaks your heart like a river that no longer reaches the sea.

So join me and the others by the river

where life is drawn together.

There’s much to discuss,

and there are voices rising.


Marcel Gaztambide was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has a BS in Geoscience from the University of Utah. He is an organizer of the Uplift Youth Climate Conference and works as the San Juan Citizens Alliance Animas Riverkeeper.

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