Welcome to this Special Issue of River Research and Applications, entitled Voicing Rivers. As an editorial group, it has been a great privilege to read and consider responses to our call for contributions and share with readers, authors and reviewers involved in this journey. We invited proposals for articles and creative work to focus on stories of, by, from and for rivers, from a variety of perspectives. This Special Issue has been a collaborative project involving nearly 20 rivers and over 50 people. We thank contributors, reviewers and the River Research and Applications journal editorial and production team.
In our writing, we voice stories of two Australian rivers to convey Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Interweaving academic literature, nature writing and creativity, we craft a story of reconnection that is transformative, action-oriented and potentially political. An open mind, place-intuition and the process of attending can deepen our river relationships, creating a sense of love and communicative connectedness. Paying deep attention, we notice meanings embedded in plain sight, within hearing range of rivers and watery places. Our relationships may be ‘in our faces’ such as the wind, or the air, water or bushes nearby. We communicate across binaries to experience the dissolution of imagined barriers. Feeling, hearing, writing and storytelling can support verbalising of experience, helping to bring to mind place-wisdom. It offers an everyday possibility for people now estranged from their riverine kin. The process uses a post human-centred, common worlds frame to consider the Anthropocene in regenerative ways. It is creative and liberating, and rivers are dying for people to take action by speaking out for and with our greater selves. In this learning journey, we synthesise learnings, hoping to inspire people everywhere to hear the call of rivers, to respond, take action and learn to love their rivers again.
In this paper a collaborative writing group explores how we, two rivers, express ourselves over time, place and space, our energies long interpreted as veins and arteries carrying the Country’s life affirming blood. Voiced as River: I, River, this position reflects a worldview in which interrelationship with living river is normal, and River Spirit is ever-present. It is a position underpinned by Indigenous narratives as riverine expressions of place-based love. At times the paper is also voiced as writing group or individuals, with voices being interchanged where required for smooth reading. We see this as part of the decolonising process, which feels liberating and healing amongst the writers. Each writer is equally valued as co-creator, contributor, narrator and story teller. The two Rivers, being Martuwarra Fitzroy River (Kimberley, Western Australia), and Unamen Shipu Romaine River (North Shore, Québec, Canada) illustrate a common condition of being, through heritage, life, change and possibility. Through stories and voices, the socio-scientific implications of colonisation and lost connections become clear, considering the interaction, the dialogue and the cultural synthesis of living water systems that have always incorporated all life forms into rivers of life. As a way of navigating towards wholeness, Aboriginal knowledge systems and narratives for healing are used to bring together findings of this intercultural river learning journey.