Voicing Rivers with Peter Reason

When asked what are you doing now?” Peter Reason answers “listening to rivers.”

Peter Reason is an old friend to AR+, mover and shaker in the world and work of action research and key progenitor of cooperative inquiry.  We spoke recently about his cooperative inquiry project on voicing rivers in a time of climate change. This work is with panpsychic philosopher Freya Mathews which construes people as part of and integrated with an intelligent and evolving cosmos. Evolving through us. The conversation touched into how to be in touch with our wider relational intelligence, beyond our self centered selves. 

Rivers are living, culturally, socially engaged beings. They hold stories, histories, health or illness, emotions, ecosystem complexity, and animate spirits. This challenges persistent (and probably Cartesian) thinking that contributes to conceptions of rivers as denatured, denuded water delivery mechanisms separate from people.

Peter Reason and colleagues are part of a special issue that celebrate the integrity and authenticity of rivers as living beings. Their intention with their cooperative inquiry was toward regenerative transformation for ecosystem health, socio-economic recovery, place sensitivities and cultural restoration for the greater good. Peter’s paper offers a message of hope.  Read the full paper at Peter’s website. Listen in on our conversation in which I pose the question (challenge?) “where is the action” in this beautiful and counter cultural inquiry with artists and intellectuals? How can it proliferate through the cosmos to inform more decision makers? Are rivers to be treated as persons? How do we listen intently enough? How do we – should we –  widen such work to include decision makers?

Peter clarifies that foremost important thing is to just do it! May it also encourage others to engage the inquiry – best started as you go sit by a river. Who knows where it can lead. 

Some questions to get you in the flow… 

· How do rivers make themselves heard?
· How do people hear rivers? (Have you heard the river waking up?)
· How are rivers culturally engaged?
· How are rivers social spaces? How did and do rivers bring people together? What makes rivers tense?
· How do rivers make themselves feel?
· How do rivers experience changing political agendas over time?
· How do rivers experience their deep and their deep long stories?
· How do we hear and feel rivers? What sense of place? (Put magic into lives and rivers)

Methodologies and Applications

· How does this type of inquiry happen?
· What is still unknown? How do we find it out?
· What brings unity? What brings people together around rivers?
· How do we register river law?
· What brings tensions?
· How are politics of rivers changing?
· What keeps us resilient and resourceful?

Where is the action in this inquiry, I asked. We also recorded some of our conversation, if you’d care to listen in…

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