Thinking Like a River

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Confluence Park Bench illustration mockup states "We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of Beauty and Life for future generations".

Last Updated on January 30, 2024

After a recent visit to Confluence Park, a friend created the above illustration of one of the art benches. The art bench was designed by local artist Gary Sweeney and is located by the North American Friendship Garden.

The bench reads, “We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.” I love this quote and the message it conveys.  Rivers truly are oases of beauty and life, nurturing everything on their meandering path to the sea.  For millennia rivers have supported vast arrays of native flora and fauna, providing shelter and sustenance.  The first peoples realized this and made their homes along the banks.  Generations of humans have continued doing the same.

Photo Credit:  Al Rendon

Some rivers are mighty and constant, some ephemeral like a small seasonal brook.  There are rivers that span whole continents, and others that divide people.  Rivers sustain life, and sadly, at times, also take life.  There are rivers that flow in each of the four cardinal directions: North, South, East, and West.  Most rivers like to bend, make horseshoe curves, and build ox bows.  The path of a river is seldom in a hurry.

Person running along Mission Reach Walking Trail

Photo Credit:  Al Rendon

Rivers have intrigued humans since the dawn of time.  They are embedded in our cultural traditions, are the subjects of great books and music, and inspire exploration and reflection. Fortunately, Texas is rich in rivers. We have the Canadian and Red rivers in the North, the Nueces and Rio Grande in the South, the Pecos in the West, the Sabine in the East, and of course, our San Antonio River. Our state was carved by these and many other great rivers and their basins. These rivers have become part of every Texan’s DNA.  We identify who we are by the basins we live in; just ask your friends in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV).

Texas River Basins Major Bays and Streams Map

Image Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Today, our rivers need our help more than ever.  As a modern society, we have lost our connection to our great rivers.  No longer dependent on the sustenance and clean water they once provided, we have turned our backs on the very things that brought our ancestors here to Texas.  Our rivers today are overburdened, choked with trash and pollution from runoff, and too often forgotten.  They need champions to spread the word.  They need communities to reconnect.  It is time for us to start thinking like a river!

Plastic, styrofoam, and aluminum cans pile along the San Antonio River Banks after major storm event.

Photo Credit: Carrie Merson

An easy way to start thinking like a river is by joining the Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River initiative. Initiated by the San Antonio River Authority, this basin-wide effort is helping spread awareness of daily actions we all can take to keep litter and pollution from fouling our river.  The San Antonio River Foundation is proud to be assisting this effort by engaging corporations and private citizens to take the pledge.

As the only non-profit solely focused on our river, the San Antonio River Foundation’s vision is to inspire stewardship of the entire 240-mile-long river and the native ecology it supports. The River Foundation’s efforts focus on four main pillars: education, ecology, arts and culture, and recreation. Each of these pillars directs the projects we embark on and ensures that we are continually striving to achieve our missions of increasing environmental equity and promoting environmental stewardship of the San Antonio River Basin.

We hope you will join us and do your part to start thinking like a river.  With your help, we can continue our efforts to sustain our river. The end of the year represents a critical fundraising time for all non-profits, including ours. This vital effort helps ensure that we can continue providing world-class education programs, unique recreation opportunities, restored habitat and ecology, and one-of-a-kind public art pieces along the San Antonio River. These initiatives bolster our mission to make the river vibrant, healthy, and accessible to ALL.

We hope you will join us and donate by December 31, 2021!

Follow the San Antonio River Foundation @sariverfoundation on facebook instagram and @sariverfound on twitter.

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