I’m honored to have had two images chosen by the Blackstone Heritage Corridor and National Park Service for inclusion in their 2018 Calendar. Both are from the River Bend Farm National Heritage Corridor in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. I’ve mentioned this location before. This portion of the National Heritage Corridor explores the Blackstone Canal, which was constructed in 1827-28 running from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island. The Canal was open for only two decades and was considered a business failure. Inspired by the success of the Erie Canal in New York, the Blackstone Canal was to provide relatively inexpensive and fairly rapid transportation along this developing corridor. It’s history turned out to be torturous as it was initially thought to be a boon for the growing cotton mill industry along the Blackstone River. Soon however, the Mill owners were suing the Canal owners over the use of water from the River. This on the heels of the conflicts between the areas farmers and industrialists over water use.
This section of the Canal has been restored. The tow path runs along the Canal and was used by Ox and Mules to power the boats that navigated the canal. For July:
Both of these images show an unusually wide portion of the Canal which was for the most part extremely narrow. For November:
The work of the National Park Service as well as the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts here in the Blackstone Corridor helps us to try and grapple with the very complex intersections between the natural environment, entrepreneurship, social policy and social justice that took place and still are in play in the Corridor. As I’ve pointed out, the Blackstone River was one of the Rivers that actually provoked the Clean Water Act, signed by that noted environmentalist, Richard Nixon…(hey, he signed it, so good for him). The lessons from the Corridor are lessons that evolve over hundreds of years. It is not easy for us to understand those lessons for that very reason, but by holding the discussion, we can perhaps make progress.
Yesterday, we had the pleasure of attending the second annual Biodiversity Festival hosted by the Corridor, in Lincoln, Rhode Island. It was inspiring to see so many people, including our wonderful daughter Molly, who are engaged in trying to protect our environment. Molly works at the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District. These folks engage in a wide variety of environmental and educational activities with the goal of protecting the drinking water for a large number of Rhode Island citizens. Drinking water….kind of important I think. One lesson is clear: protect that which is essential to our lives.