Kelsey Leonard: Why Lakes and Rivers Should Have the Same Rights as Humans // TED Women 2019

“…we need to transform the way in which we value water. We have to start to think about how do we connect to water. Usually, someone might ask you, “What is water?” and you would respond with “Rain, ocean, lake, river, H20, liquid.” You might even understand the sacred essentiality of water and say that water is life. But what if I asked you, instead, ‘Who is water?’ In the same way that I might ask you, ‘Who is your grandmother?’ ‘Who is your sister?’ That type of orientation fundamentally transforms the way in which we think about water, transforms the way in which we make decisions about how we might protect water, protect it in the way that you would protect your grandmother, your mother, your sister, your aunties. That is the type of transformation that we need if we are going to address the many water crises we see in our world today, these harrowing water crises that have streamed across our digital devices in countdowns to Day Zero, the point at which municipal water supplies are shut off. ”


“So…what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do for the water? Well, you can call your local politician. You can go to a town meeting. You can advocate for granting legal personhood to water. You can be like the residents of the city of Toledo and build from the grass roots, and craft your own legislation if the politicians won’t write it, recognizing legal personality of water. You can learn about the Indigenous lands and waters that you now occupy and the Indigenous legal systems that still govern them. And most of all, you can connect to water. You can restore that connection. Go to the water closest to your home, and find out why it is threatened. But most of all, if you do anything, I ask that you make a promise to yourself, that each day, you will ask, “What have I done for the water today?” If we are able to fulfill that promise, I believe we can create a bold and brilliant world where future generations are able to form the same relationship to water that we have been privileged to have, where all communities of human and nonhuman relations have water to live, because water is life.”

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Lisa Marie Blair

Hello! I'm an aspiring writer fascinated by the human condition. You can find much of my work on my personal blog and at Zen and Pi. I also tweet as @lisamarieblair_ and share pictures and poetry on Instagram. Please consider signing up for my newsletter or supporting what I do by sharing a cup of virtual coffee. Thank you!

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