When was the last time you were over in Gig Harbor, Washington? Seen everything? Done it all? Even the fun gnome quest that is happening in the area? Well, there is something new going on, and you might like to head over and explore it, while taking a pleasant, healthy walk. What’s it about? Echology.
You might ask whether this old girl 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 helpful or harmful,” gifted local author and artist Jennifer Preston Chushcoff states. She is the force behind the project that has brought together seasoned as well as new poets from the area, among them poet laureates Lydia Valentine (Tacoma) and Rena Priest (Washington State). “I sought out local poets that would offer a variety of perspectives on the Salish Sea’s habitat, the salmon life cycle, and health of our local waters . . . Their words are powerful, touching, illuminating, and at times, whimsical.”
Jenn quotes Leonardo da Vinci, who said, “When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come.” He understood the cyclical nature of life and the delicate, closed system we inhabit, she says. Her Echology poetry walk is an invitation to explore Donkey Creek’s ancient spawning grounds in Gig Harbor. “It highlights our ties to the land, our influence, and the sacred spaces ‘hidden‘ in our midst.”
Jenn was also inspired when, many years ago, she watched spawning salmon in that Gig Harbor area. I totally agree with her that this event that takes places every year in the same place at the same time, mostly unwitnessed, is miraculous – in this case in the middle and in spite of a busy city. I fear that we are taking so much for granted we stop looking for it. Until it might NOT happen anymore and we realize.
“Salmon are the perfect metaphor of cycles and renewal. The spot of earth we now call Washington has been home to them for thousands of years,“ Jenn observes. “Their presence is intertwined with the health of this ecosystem. After salmon spawn and die, their bodies release precious nutrients back to the rivers and streams in which they were born.“
The Coast Salish tribes’ survival has been directly linked to the health of the salmon and their annual return. Ceremonies, songs, and dances celebrate and honor salmon. And Jenn’s homepage www.byjenn.com/echology shares a video of a performance by the Puyallup tribe called “The Salmon Homecoming.”
For the Echology poetry walk the City of Gig Harbor has awarded Jenn a Creative Endeavor Grant, which is given out annually by the Gig Harbor Art Commission. The short, accessible path Jenn chose for her project follows a beautiful creekside trail, meandering through two city parks, behind the Harbor History Museum and eventually out to the harbor. Got inspired? So, consider bringing a blanket and picnic lunch!