St. Lawrence University has received a $10,000 grant from Humanities New York (HNY) in support of the North Country Rights of Nature Project, which will focus on creating a bill of rights to protect the ecosystems of the St. Regis, Grasse, and Raquette Rivers.
The grant, which is supported by the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Action Grant, was awarded to just over 22 percent of applicants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Country Rights of Nature Project is led by Professor and Chair of Global Studies John Collins in collaboration with Weave News, an independent media outlet, and Talking Wings Productions, a group of environmental storytellers.
Related to the fall 2020 North Country Art, Land, and Environment Summit which brought community members together to discuss sustainable and regenerative climate crisis solutions, the North Country Rights of Nature Project aims to lay the groundwork for future legislation by engaging local high schools, universities, organizations, and governments in conversations about the history of North Country waterways. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project will be completed virtually.
With the support of the grant, the North Country Rights of Nature Project will develop an online exhibition showcasing the history of the three rivers and North Country communities’ connections with the waterways. The online exhibition will feature an interactive historical timeline of articles and illustrated animations by Talking Wings, which was co-created by visual creator and media producer Tzintzun Aguilar Izzo, a member of St. Lawrence’s Class of 2015, and Blake Lavia.
As part of the collaborative project, Weave News will publish a series of articles showcasing members of the community and leaders of the “Rights of Nature” movement, which recognizes an ecosystem as having moral and legal rights to exist, maintain, and regenerate its vital cycle.
The North Country Rights of Nature Project will conclude March 22, 2022 with a virtual symposium moderated by Talking Wings Productions and high school-age youth groups. The symposium will welcome government officials, legal experts, and scientists, including representatives from the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation and the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, to discuss a new governance system for waterways and develop a bill of rights for the three rivers.
The North Country Rights of Nature Project has established partnerships with local schools, colleges, and universities, as well as local organizations, planning boards and leaders.