The Red Alert Project -"The Translator"

(Editor's Note: Thanks to artist Barbara Amos, who shares her questions with us as she reminisces over photos that she created in support of protecting the Castle River and its headwaters. The Castle is one of the main tributaries upstream of the Oldman. The fragility of the land through which it winds its way - and thus the drinking water we all share - has been confirmed through the announcement of two new parks. How those regions will be used, and what activities are permitted within those parks, is currently being decided by the government through a stakeholder engagement process. For more information, please visit: )

I am going through the photographs that we created as part of the Red Alert project. My intent is to organize my files. Instead, I am finding that I wish to share these. Nothing in this photo shoot went as planned. There was no snow. The wind came up. The dog took centre stage. The purpose was so compromised that I put most of the photographs in the D file. Dismissed.

Today, when we are thinking about the significance of the recent announcement of two new parks in southern Alberta, these images come to me. Various interests are again looking for audience and credence. Voices are clamouring for attention. Who is the voice of the land? How is it heard? How is shared?

In the one photo, people are huddled around the dog. It is amusing - it draws us in. The dog appears to be speaking and the people are listening intently: What is the dog saying? We wonder what is going on in this golden landscape that is dormant, asleep through the winter months; we wonder what the people may be hearing from this animal. In a world rich in animals and creatures, this is the one we call man's best friend. What is it trying to tell us - is it trying to translate something?

The translator. We are learning. We are beginning to know how to read the land, the wildlife, the plants and rivers and streams and what they can tell us. We are beginning to understand their fragility, their dilemma. Can we learn it in time? How do we share this knowledge before it’s too late? How do we create a world of people that listens to the world of nature?

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