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What is transformational guardian learning?

Transformational guardians learning is a unique approach to change through transformational life practice coming from Indigenous Peoples and local communities. By joining this course you will join a global community of guardians who practice the custodianship of nature. You will learn Indigenous, embodied and community led knowledge that can change your professional outlook and the way you live. Whether it is activism, art practice, third sector, humanitarianism, environmental law, ecology or life science, being a guardian re-enforces learnings in, through, and with life.

 

What will you get from this course?

 

Taking this course will give you access to transformational learning and leadership, networking, group sharing, community-building, knowledge exchange, skills transfer, value-based learning, practical skills and immersive experience of traditional ecological and embodied knowledge. Through intellectual, physical, ceremonial and ritual practice, you will be learning how to protect waters and lands from Indigenous leaders from within the territories, in over 30 nations worldwide!

 

Would you like to be a river guardian?

Read on, to find out the amazing contents and teachers of our upcoming course! 

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COURSE SCHEDULE

 

Opening

 

Tuesday February 1, 4:00-6:00pm UK GMT

With Rajendra Singh, Jennifer Avila, Maida Bilal and Michal Kravcik

Chair: Advaya and Josh Cohen

 

Rivers beyond borders: the global and local challenges of river guardians

 

In this opening session we discuss what the role of river guardians are, what it means to become a river guardian, and what some of the major global challenges faced by river systems, especially the extractive nature of hydropower and agribusiness.

 

WEEK 1

 

​ Talk

 

Biography of the Sao Francisco River

Wednesday February 2, 5:00-7:00pm UK GMT

With Edgar Kanayko and Tawana Kariri-Xoco

Chair: Vanessa Hasson

 

Edgar and Tawana from the Kanayko and Kariri-Xoco peoples of Alagoas will convey the significance of the river Sao Francisco, the longest in Brazil, for Indigenous guardians in Northeastern Brazil. The focus of the talk will be the living river, and the three pillars of river stewardship: memory, culture and spirituality.

 

WEEK 2

 

Practice

 

The Movement of Rivers

Tuesday February 8, 5:00-6:00pm UK

With Eline Kieft

 

In this practical workshop, Eline shares the importance of connecting with the kinaesthetic and somatic properties of water, drawing on her Clover Trail practice, an approach that combines shamanic traditions, movement medicine and environmental connection.

 

Talk

 

Meeting of the Waters: The Ecology of Water Sounds and Music

Wednesday February 9, 5:00-7:00pm UK GMT

With Leah Barclay and Sandy Sur

Chair: Tracey Benson

 

In this session world renowned sound artist Leah Barclay and Vanuatu community leader Sandy Sur speak to Dr Tracey Benson from the Meeting of the Waters Collective about the importance of paying attention to rivers through the medium of sound and music. How vital is it for river guardians to learn to practice deep listening and environmental attention?

 

 

WEEK 3

 

Practice

 

Walking with Rivers

Tuesday, February 15, 5-6pm GMT

With Nicolas Salazar Sutil

 

Nicolas Salazar Sutil conveys the importance of wading, walking and following rivers as an ancestral aspect of our human nature, drawing on his practice in Movement Psychology. How important is it to follow rivers during different seasonal periods in order to understand their courses, catchments, ebbs and flows?

 

Conversation

 

Rights and Restoration: River Retrieval Movement in India

Wednesday February 16, 4-6pm GMT

With Rajendra Singh and Nicolas Salazar Sutil

 

In this session, Nicolas Salazar Sutil talks to Goldman Prize winner and world-renowned environmentalist Rajendra Singh, the waterman of India, about the rights of rivers and the ways in which river guardian communities can work together to achieve river restoration and resilience. We will be drawing on Rajendra’s extensive experience as river guardian in Tamil Nadu and throughout India.

 

WEEK 4

 

Practice

 

Open Water Swimming

Tuesday February 22, 5-6pm GMT

With Charlie Dannreuther

 

Charlie Dannreuther from SeaSure shares his experience as an open water and river swimmer, focusing on health benefits and safe enjoyment of waters, as well as the power of swimming as an embodied way of knowing fresh and saltwater. How can we think water through the practice of open water swimming?

 

Conversation

 

Guardians of the River Atrato: Race and Resistance

Wednesday February 23, 5-6:30pm GMT

With Richard Moreno and Nicolas Salazar Sutil

 

In this session, we speak to the leader of the Interethnic Forum of Chocó and Guardians of the Atrato River representative Richard Moreno. Richard will talk about the landmark ruling that pronounced the Atrato the first river in Colombia to be a legal person under the rights of nature framework. Richard will discuss the power of Black and Afro-descendent tradition in local river guardianships within the Chocó region of Western Colombia. Why does racism and negative stereotyping continue to define river ecology sand environmentalism?

 

WEEK 5

 

Practice

 

River storytelling

Tuesday March 1, 5-6pm GMT

With Kamilu Hassan Hamza and Stephen Okpadah

 

In this session we will learn about the Jakara River and the Niger Delta in Nigeria. The Niger Delta is widely considered to be one of the most environmentally damaged ecosystems in the world. Why are stories so vital to communicating the work of local river guardians and activists? We will be discussing different local storytelling traditions with community theatre practitioner Stephen Okpadah and Hausa oral historian Kamilu Hassan Hamza. We will learn about storytelling within a Hausa animism and spirit possession oral tradition. Is it possible to be possessed by the spirit of black waters?

 

Talk

 

Fishing for Future: Alaska’s guardians of the wild salmon

Chair: Advaya

 

This session is led by Dune Lankard, a member of the Eyak of the Eagle Clan and founder of  Nature Conservancy, as well as film-maker Josh “Bones” Murphy, director of Artifishal (2019). They will discuss the role of local Indigenous fishing communities as river guardians and we will focus on the plight of river custodians trying to save wild salmon in Alaska. How can fishing in a traditional way reconnect people to wildlife and river biodiversity, whilst helping defend rivers in the face of industrial fishing and extractivism?

 

WEEK 6

 

Talk

 

Working with Indigenous Organisations and Women Guardian Groups

Wednesday March 9, 5:00-6:30pm UK GMT

With Ikal Angelei and Daniel Kobei

Chair: Josh Cohen

 

In this session, we speak to Goldman Prize winner Ikal Angelei and to Daniel Kobei, director of Ogiek Peoples Development Programme about how international actors can work with Indigenous guardian organisations such as Friends of Lake Turkana and OPDP in Kenya. We will focus on the role women groups play in the guardianship of waters in the east African context, particularly in terms of an escalating crisis in the region surrounding the invasive nature of hydropower corporations, energy firms and state actors.

 

WEEK 7

 

Talk

 

River Action Now: Clean Ilkley River Campaign

Wednesday March 16, 5:00-7:00pm UK GMT

With Kathleen Roberts and members of CIRC

Chair: Josh Cohen

 

We discuss the Clean Ilkley River campaign, which led to a landmark ruling in the UK: the Ilkley is the first river in the UK to be granted official bathing status. However, dubious environmental policy, regulation and mismanagement means that the legal status of the river, and the enforcement of law, are two very different processes that do not always harmonise. How can we ensure legal protection of rivers in implemented in practice?

 

 

WEEK 8

 

Talk

River Action Now: restoring the Beirut River

Wednesday March 23, 5:00-7:30pm UK GMT

With Adib Dada and members of the Other Dada collective

Chair: Josh Cohen

 

Adib Dada from the Other Dada discusses the efforts to use Miyawaki afforestation methods to reforest the Beirut River in Lebanon in order to save this biologically dead ecosystem. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Beirut has a millennial historical connection with its river, yet industrial activity, war and misgovernance have threatened the survival of this iconic river. How can urban rivers be restored and what kind of action can urban river guardians mobilise to address rivercide?

 

 

WEEK 9

 

Conversation

 

River Action Now: Eko Bistro and the guardians of the Kruščica River

Wednesday March 30, 5:00-6:30pm UK GMT

Maida Bilal in conversation with Advaya

 

In this session, Ruby Reed talks to Goldman Prize winner Maida Bilal about the guardianship of the last wild river in Europe, the Kruščica. We will discuss the endurance of local woman groups, eco-feminism and the power of protest to resist hydropower corporations and the damming of free-flowing rivers.   

 

WEEK 10

 

Conversation

 

River Action Now: How Villages can fight against Dams

Wednesday April 6, 5:00-6:30pm UK GMT

Michal Kravcik in conversation with Advaya

 

Goldman Prize winner and world-renowned hydrologist Michal Kravcik speaks about how he organised 24 villages to prevent the damming of the river Torysa in Slovakia, and how his NGO “People and Water” has developed a unique model of river guardianship based on democratic local communities taking ownership over water management and governance.

 

WEEK 11

 

Talk

 

Human and nonhuman guardians: the Nyikina Warrwa and Muruwari river custodians in Australia

Wednesday April 13, 5:00-7:30pm UK GMT

Chair: Advaya

 

In this final talk, we discuss the life practices of Untie Anne Poelina and Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth. We will be honouring various lifeforms that protect, guard and guide river spirits, both human and nonhuman. We will speak of land, dream, and artistic expression as vital aspects of river guardianship.

 

WEEK 12

 

Closing session

Friday April 15, 5:00-7:00pm UK GMT

Speakers to be confirmed

Chair: Advaya and Josh Cohen

 

River Pilgrimage (optional)

Saturday April 16, 10:00-15:00 UK GMT

Led by Nicolas Salazar Sutil

 

As a final closure to this amazing programme on river guardianship, you will be invited on an optional pilgrimage (travel and food to be covered independently by course participants). We will follow the meanders of the Cuckmere River in East Sussex, from Alfriston to Cuckmere Haven, where river meets the ocean and the course meets its ultimate purpose. Details to come.

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Guardians of the River: a transformational course on river guardianship


Delivered Online via Zoom (Mighty Networks)

 

With Rajendra Singh, Michal Kravcik, Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth, Anne Poelina, Ikal Angelei, Daniel Kobei, Tawana Kariri-Xoco, Edgar Kanayko, Adib Dada, Maida Bilal and many more. 


February 1- April 15, 2022


Guardians of the River is a transformational and experiential course on river guardianship curated by Guardians Worldwide and Advaya.

 

 

Welcome.

Water runs through bodies of land, through air and the human body. It is a living entity, with whom we all have a deep relationship. We were all water beings once, foetuses. We have webbed fingers, evolutionary traits of our embodied connection to water.

 

Repairing the water-human relationship is at the core of this journey. How can we reconnect with water and understand our relationship with water bodies based on values of kinship? Can we begin to shift away from an anthropocentric understanding of water as resource or commodity? Can we begin to understand our relation to rivers as sources of life, as blood?

In this unique course we have the privilege to learn from practitioners from many different nations about traditional water knowledge and global confluences of water thinking. Our aim is to understand spiritual, ecological, cultural and legal aspects of river guardianship.

Our approach to river guardianship

We emphasise the function of water as life, hence the need to restore relations between humans and rivers through biocentric values. Our approach is based on a three-way flow: we must take care of our own bodies (i.e. learn how to use water for our own physical and mental wellbeing); we must take care of physical and affective relations between humans through the interpersonal power of water (water kinship and community); we must extend that sense of familiarity and responsibility to the protection of water bodies in general (river guardianship).

 

Starting from a somatic perspective, you will learn how to take care of our own bodily self in the way we drink, cleanse, bathe, swim, move and flow; you will learn about water kinship and riparian community-building, and you will learn how to extend that sense of care between humans to a sense of love and care for freshwaters (i.e. via river activism, advocacy, counter-current journalism, legal defence of river and water art).

The course will focus on three key aspects of river guardianship:

Rights of Rivers: personhood of rivers and legal rights for freshwaters, catchments and basins.

Rivercide: remedying and seeking justice following the ecological death of rivers due to industrial activity, agribusiness, hydropower and chemical and plastic pollution (we will cover major challenges such as drought, floods, dams and canalisation)

Riparian community building and activism: building riverside communities for regeneration, protection and custodianship of freshwaters.

 

Whether you are interested in environmentalism, nature reconnection, community building, communication, activism, eco-art, research, environmental law, advocacy, or simply looking for inspiration, this course is designed to change the way we understand our human relation to rivers in an age of ecological crisis.

 

About the course

The course is hosted by Nicolas Salazar Sutil, Ruby Reed and Christabel Reed on Zoom via the Mighty Network platform. Each week, a different river guardian will present a biography of an iconic river. Our river guardians will share insights into key aspects of river guardianship including:

  • activism

  • community building

  • legal rights

  • cultural and artistic practices

  • traditional knowledge

  • political action

  • policy

 

The course is taught by river guardians from many nations/countries around the world, including: Rajendra Singh (India); Michal Kravcik (Slovakia); Maida Bilal (Albania); Edgar Kanayko (Xakriaba); Tawana Cruz (Fulkaxo); Jennifer Avila (Honduras); Richard Moreno (Colombia); Adib Dada (Lebanon); Daniel Kobei (Ogiek), Anne Poelina (Nyikina Warrwa).

Structure of the course

This 12-week course is structured into 3 interactive river biographies and a series of regional projects. In each weekly session, participants take part in 2 workshops during which participants will follow an iconic river from source to sea, following stories of environmental, social and political struggle to protect and restore river systems. These sessions will be followed by a group reflection and debate. In weeks 2 and 3, there will be practical workshops with Eline Kieft, Nicolas Salazar Sutil and Charles Dannreuther to help better understand the somatic, physical and personal source of human-water connection.

 

This taught course will be held online via Zoom within the Guardians of the River Mighty Networks platform from February 1 to April 15, 2022.

Each session will be recorded and you will have access to all of the material, forums, events, discussions and more.