pictures, words and poem by emma de carvalho, 2nd year sociology student at LSE
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The water is where life began, and it continues to be home to some of the richest ecosystems on our planet. Rivers, canals and lakes in urban centres often tend to be overlooked and become accessories to the rest of the cityscape. We tend to treat these water habitats as self-regenerative and self-cleansing. Once this becomes our mindset, it also becomes our practice. I have lived by the water my whole life: next to an ocean, a river, and now Regent’s canal. The most frustrating aspect of living near a water ecosystem has always been the carelessness and neglect that so many people treat it with. Plastic waste – in the form of bottles and food wrapping, for example - has been the most evident form of pollution for me.
Waterways are indeed self-regenerative and self-cleansing. However, when there is immediate, intensive, and long-term pressure on the system, they cannot adapt fast enough to these new conditions.
Waterways are not isolated ecosystems, but co-exist with the boaters who live on them, and the animals and vegetation that live in the water and off-shore. We must collectively shift our perception of nature from being an infinite resource that we can use (and capitalise), to something that exists alongside us, as something that takes care of us just as much as we should be taking care of it.