Listening to the Water
Jill Jedlicka is the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. She and her organization have done much of the legwork to help clean up the Buffalo River and other waterways around Western New York. The work done by Riverkeeper has been integral to the recovery of water all over the region. In her extended interview, Jill mentions "listening to the water."
After watching the extended interview with Jill Jedlicka, from Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, have a discussion with students about “listening to the water.”
1. What would Buffalo water say? Students should volunteer what they think our water might say. (ex. “please clean me,” “come swim with me,” “I remember when…,” etc.)
2. Talk about the different uses for our water (ex. For drinking, energy, transportation, recreation, etc.)
3. As a class, have students work together to create a large mural incorporating all the ways that we use Buffalo’s water.
Stanley Spisiak: A Voice for the Water
Stanley Spisiak was a local jeweler in Buffalo who had a passion for the outdoors and particularly for the water. He was an advocate for the waters of Western New York long before it was common or popular to speak out about environmental concerns. His actions laid the ground for the path to recovery of the Buffalo River and Lake Erie. Meet Spisiak and his grand-niece Jill Spisiak Jedlicka, who continues that work today.
Have your students watch the video segment Stanley Spisiak: A Voice for the Water. Stanley can be considered a hero. He stood up for what he believed in and action was taken.
1. What is the definition of a hero?
2. Who are the heroes in the student’s lives?
3. Has he or she ever acted as a hero? Did he or she cause action to be taken on some issue?
4. Write an essay on “When I Was a Hero.” If students were never in a hero situation, have them write about something they’d like to take a stand for. What would he or she do?
Buffalo Water Renaissance
Water has defined Buffalo over the last two hundred years. Water helped build Buffalo into a shipping hub in the 1800’s and a manufacturing powerhouse in the 1900’s. Most of those industries are long gone but their legacy along the waterways of Western New York is not. Many water related issues face Buffalo today, industrial clean up, environmental restoration, and public access are only a few. But if handled correctly, water can be one of the keys to Buffalo’s future.
After watching A Trip up the Buffalo River with Captain Tom Marks discuss the concept of “renaissance” with students. Renaissance means rebirth and renewal. The most famous renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned from the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy and later spreading to the rest of Europe.
1. What does it mean for Buffalo’s water to go through a “renaissance?”
2. What ideas do the student’s have for the future of the Buffalo waterfront?
3. Create a work of art, poem or song based on the rebirth of Buffalo’s water.