When was the last time you were in Gig Harbor, Washington? Seen everything? Absolutely ? Even the fun gnome quest that takes place in the area? Well, there is something new going on, and you might like to go out there and explore it, while having a nice and healthy walk. What is it about? Echology.
You might ask if that old maid misspelled something. No, the term “echology” is a combination of echo and ecology. “Everything we do creates a ripple, an echo that reverberates throughout the environment. This influence can be useful or harmful, ”says Jennifer Preston Chushcoff, a talented local author and artist. She is the force behind the project which brought together seasoned poets as well as emerging poets from the region, including poet laureates Lydia Valentine (Tacoma) and Rena Priest (Washington State). “I looked for local poets who would offer a variety of perspectives on the Salish Sea habitat, the salmon life cycle and the health of our local waters. . . Their words are powerful, touching, enlightening and sometimes whimsical. “
Jenn quotes Leonardo da Vinci, who said, “When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that came before and the first of what is yet to come. He understood the cyclical nature of life and the delicate, closed system we live in, she says. His poetic Echology Walk is an invitation to explore the ancient spawning grounds of Donkey Creek in Gig Harbor. “It highlights our connection to the land, our influence and the sacred spaces ‘hidden’ in our midst. “
Jenn was also inspired when, many years ago, she observed salmon spawning in the Gig Harbor area. I totally agree with her that this event which takes place every year in the same place at the same time, mostly without witnesses, is miraculous – in this case in the middle and despite a bustling city. I’m afraid we take so much for granted that we stop looking for it. Until that no longer happens and we realize.
“Salmon is the perfect metaphor for cycles and renewal. The place on earth we now call Washington has been home to them for thousands of years, ”observes Jenn. “Their presence is closely linked to the health of this ecosystem. After salmon spawn and die, their bodies release valuable nutrients into the rivers and streams they were born into.
The survival of the Coast Salish tribes has been directly linked to the health of the salmon and their annual return. Ceremonies, songs and dances celebrate and honor the salmon. And Jenn’s homepage www.byjenn.com/echology shares a video of a performance by the Puyallup Tribe titled “The Salmon Homecoming”.
For the Poetic Walk of Echology, the town of Gig Harbor awarded Jenn a Creative Endeavor Grant, which is awarded annually by the Gig Harbor Art Commission. The short, accessible path Jenn chose for her project follows a beautiful creek-side path, winding through two city parks, behind the Harbor History Museum and finally to the harbor. Are you inspired? So, remember to bring a blanket and a picnic!