The "Blue Hole"

The "Blue Hole"

Friday, February 7, 2014

STORY in PHOTOS - Great Oak Trail


Photos by Ed Segura

Here is the story, in photos, of one day in the life of our volunteers and staff during a special Volunteer Work Day.  Our goal this day was to finish clearing the Great Oak Trail, a half mile foot trail through the western portion of the Headwaters Sanctuary.  The trail winds past a number of 400+ year old "heritage" live oak trees.
Helen and our amazingly cheerful volunteers haul out loads of invasive (weedy) brush, thus “liberating the natives,” improving the ecology, and opening our new trail for others to enjoy.

 Richard cuts the last “ceremonial” Ligustrum stump closing the gap and completing  the trail. We'd cut the trail half way up from one trailhead, then started up from the other trailhead to meet in the middle, "closing the gap" on this celebratory day.

This is what it looks like in one section of the trail.  Soon it will all be covered with mulch, keeping it a natural foot trail.  All of our mulch comes from recycling the brush we’ve cleared out of the woods. We haul it out, pile it up and later chip it in a big noisy wood chipper.  The chipped wood then goes out on the trail as mulch.

Keri, with her Headwaters volunteer t-shirt, helps Richard tackle that huge stump while Natalia, a UIW student in a red cardinal t-shirt, looks on, enjoying a bit of rest from her labors.

Howard, our Volunteer Coordinator, follows up with careful use of herbicide on the stump.  This prevents regrowth.  The blue helps us see where we’re spraying, and will fade away just like the stump, which will return to the soil.

Trail finally open….it’s champagne time!  Yes, I sneaked a nice iced bottle of champagne up into the woods for a surprise celebration of this milestone in the development of the Headwaters Sanctuary.  This is not a regular feature of our volunteer work days, but this day was extra special.

Drinking a small but grateful toast to our fun, hard-working team who, along with those not present, have left a vital piece of themselves in this new trail.  This project unfolding in the headwaters of the San Antonio River is about communion with nature, and with each other -- community.  It's about hard work and its inevitable rewards.  It's about restoration -- of the land and of our spirits.  It's about honoring the heritage of this historic place, and investing in the millennium.  And it is so much more.

It's about FUN!  Fun, which sometimes borders on silliness, such as our improvisational Great Oak Trail Dance led by Charlotte.  Join us.  We're making history. You can, too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Faith in the Workplace

Faith in the Workplace

Last Sunday, I was Lector in church and read aloud the following passage from Paul's Letter to the Ephesians.

The First Lesson—Ephesians 5:8-14
For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.  Live as children of light--for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.  Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.  Therefore it says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

This bit of scripture spoke directly to a situation confronting me in my place of work at the Headwaters.  The situation is one of those ethical dilemmas that confront us in our everyday life, except this one was a really big one involving very powerful forces.  For some time I'd been asking myself:  do I avert my eyes, close my mind, squelch my heart, avoid controversy, be silent and try to ignore the consequences?  Or do I use what I know, find courage, act on what I believe is right, speak my truth, risk making enemies, and in the process, put other peoples' lives into turmoil along with my own?

What to do?  Answer:
"Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness,
but instead expose them."

My job as Headwaters Director is rooted in incarnational spirituality:  the Incarnate Word, the Word made flesh; God's Word lived out in the flesh and blood of our daily lives.  The Incarnate Word Sisters work through prayer and action to bring God's healing love into the world.  This is their founding charism (or spiritual character) and it permeates every ministry they have ever founded.
Sometimes, the spiritual turns political, and then even judicial. 
And when it does, look out.

Last week, the Headwaters Coalition with the support of the Incarnate Word Sisters joined the River Road Neighborhood Association in a legal attempt to restrain the San Antonio City Council from voting on the construction of a massive storm sewer in the San Antonio River in Brackenridge Park below the Hildebrand Bridge.  Council's agenda included a $12 million contract to begin construction as soon as Mulberry Street is reopened to through traffic, possibly later this month (April).  Judge David Berchelmann denied our request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), but only because he did not believe he had authority to interfere with the legislative process when no immediate “irreparable harm” would ensue from the vote itself.  Fair enough.

The City attorneys, the Judge and our own counsel, led by trial attorney Matt Wymer and attorney Bebb Francis, then agreed on the spot to a Temporary Injunction hearing set for Monday, April 11, just ten days hence.  A Temporary Injunction (TI) hearing is an evidentiary hearing with witnesses, but the Judge's decision regarding a TI centers on whether it is essential to maintain the status quo (i.e., no construction) while a trial on the merits is pending.  If successful, a TI would temporarily prevent construction on the storm sewer until the case is heard.  Success at the later trial would result in a Permanent Injunction, stopping the Hildebrand outfall from ever being built.

And that, my friends, is our #1 goal in all this:
to keep the giant storm sewer
out of the sacred headwaters
of the San Antonio River.

A panoramic view of the San Antonio River at its northernmost point in Brackenridge Park where the city wants to put two 6x9 foot box culverts with a 70-foot concrete wall in this narrow, natural, historically very sensitive part of the river.
An existing 48" drainage conduit can be seen next to the Hildebrand Bridge at left.
Miraflores Park, a federally protected National Historic Place, is in the background.
Remnants of the old Spanish colonial acequia system are just behind the viewer.

This is one of those historic moments
when as a community we can choose...

to hold on to something truly unique, something ennobling to our spirits and fitting to our San Antonio heritage, something that lifts up and cherishes our river all the way from its physical and spiritual source to its living Mission churches in the south, something that honors our history, protects our central public park, restores our river's natural beauty, and preserves the public trust.

On the other hand, if we act with fear, we can choose to let it go, to stand aside while a destructive force is loosed on and in our river at its most vulnerable, historically rich, sacred location in the headwaters basin.

To hold on to and work together to realize the vision of a final “Spiritual Reach of the San Antonio River” is a golden opportunity that will be lost.  It is an opportunity to complete with an exclamation point ( ! ) the historic community-wide effort to restore our relationship with our river, still the lifeblood of our community.  It is an opportunity to “put the head on the headwaters” of the San Antonio River Improvements Project, and to connect physically, spiritually, symbolically for all times a historic vitally important institution in San Antonio –the Incarnate Word Sisters – with the rest of the city, by way of the river!  The same river that brought the Incarnate Word Sisters to San Antonio in the first place.

How? A very broken relationship between the citizens of San Antonio and their life-giving river led to outbreaks of cholera (water borne disease associated with sewage) that killed hundreds of San Antonio's early citizens.  One of those cholera epidemics brought the founding Sisters to San Antonio in 1869 to establish the city’s first infirmary, which became our first hospital and which is now CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System.

The Sisters, through the Headwaters, have now offered a place, a project and the encouragement to help us heal our broken relationship with nature and the river
at its physical and spiritual source.

Map used at Visioning Workshop on the Spiritual Reach
June 25, 2010

The vision for a Spiritual Reach of the San Antonio River acknowledges the historical significance and long-standing relationship of the human community to this river, for good and for bad. It celebrates the historical significance and long-standing relationship of the Incarnate Word Sisters to the City of San Antonio.  The Spiritual Reach vision – if given the opportunity to be well executed -- benefits everyone:  the river at its sacred source, the community at large, and the Sisters and all their ministries at the "Head of the River": university, retirement center and nature sanctuary.

To squander this evolving opportunity with a misguided ugly potentially illegal drainage project in a revered part of the river is intolerable.  We will all live to regret it if the project goes forward.  This is what this challenge is all about for us.

And if our legal challenge is successful,
the river will be protected, and that sacred public trust
between government and citizens
will be preserved.

These are both values worth standing up for.  Even when the cost of doing so is high.  The city’s Hildebrand drainage project is quite simply not the bond project voters approved.  Not even close.  To let it go unchallenged is to risk grave injury to the river at its headwaters in our public park -- and to give carte blanche to the City for any and all of our bond committee-vetted and citizen-approved bonds.  That we believe is a very dangerous precedent.

We hope you will stand with us in standing down
this unfortunate mistake.

Come watch and be a supportive presence.
No eligibility requirements necessary!

Come to the old County Courthouse on
Monday, April 11 by 9:00 am
and join us for the hearing in
Judge Berchelmann's courtroom.

So what's the Alternative?

So, what if the Hildebrand drainage project is permanently enjoined (stopped)?  

We believe the City will find even better alternatives for meeting our community's needs.  Where one window closes another opens.  We would suggest for starters:
  • Un-bundle the street and utility projects from the (illegal) drainage project;
  • Fund the desirable add-on projects (street reconstruction, under-grounding of utilities) on schedule using 2007 bond savings, or other city money;
  • Revise the Broadway Corridor - Phase IIIA drainage project to take stormwater down Broadway to the river at Carnahan (as originally intended) or better yet to the river at Tuleta, 0.10 mile further south; and
  • Plan to extend the Catalpa-Pershing drainage channel up to the river at Tuleta as part of the 2012 bond program (something the City has already committed to doing).

We believe the City can design a stormwater system that would drain
 the 100-year flood event off the Broadway-Hildebrand intersection
 according to the original limits of the bond while
not sacrificing the river at its headwaters 
nor risking irreparable harm 
to sensitive historic resources in and between 
Miraflores and Brackenridge Park.  

Take a look at the two drainage project alternatives the city considered (the only two).  Here is the original bond project as approved by the voters:

Note: full title and scope of bond project does not mention Hildebrand.  
Broadway Corridor - Phase IIIA (Carnahan to 150 feet north of Davis Court)

Now look at the redirected Broadway Corridor - Phase IIIA bond project:  
the "Hildebrand alternative."  

NOTE: Yellow lines coming down Broadway south of Hildebrand show how the project drains water from this southeast corner of Broadway-Hildebrand (at Broadway Tower) and back-flows north ( ! ) into the Hildebrand drainage culverts where it eventually dumps into the SAR. The stormwater from north of Hildebrand makes a hard right angle turn, as the City Engineer says, to follow the existing flow pattern.

It does not take an engineer's certificate to see that these are not the same project in scope or intent.

With a modest refinement to the original voter-approved bond, the city could avoid any impact to the Witte property at the existing Carnahan drainage channel by extending the new drainage culverts one-tenth of a mile down to Tuleta at the lower south end of the Witte property. To do so would involve only one landowner, the Witte, aka the City!  

From the river at Tuleta, a long sought pilot channel -- perhaps as a 2012 bond project -- could divert up to 1,500 cubic feet per second of flood water to the Catalpa-Pershing drainage ditch where it would then flow into the big tunnel at Josephine, typically arriving before the flow coming down the meandering main stem of the river through the Park.  This sequences the timing of peak flows entering the tunnel thereby improving the system's overall capacity to carry that 100-year storm event.  Such a holistic approach would not only address the problem of street flooding at the Broadway-Hildebrand intersection in a manner consistent with the voter-approved bond, but also  help remove valuable property and homes from the 100-year floodplain in the River Road neighborhood and along Broadway.

Design of pilot channel and series of ponds connecting the Catalpa-
Pershing drainage channel (at far left) to the river at Tuleta.

You can find descriptions and technical details relating to most of these ideas in the City's (or County's or River Authority's or River Improvement Project's) own engineering studies, reports, and conceptual designs.  The point is there are other, much better options than the hugely destructive one at Hildebrand.  

Doing this step-wise approach towards the holistic solution of stormwater drainage and flood control along Broadway would leave the pending street improvements on Hildebrand without an immediate source of funding.  But please remember that the street improvements were only incidental to the drainage project if the City is to be believed.  Broadway drainage  bonds are after all the current funding source for the now desirable Hildebrand street  improvements (for which there was no 2007 bond project).

The Headwaters Coalition and the Incarnate Word Sisters want to see the street improvements at Broadway and Hildebrand go forward on or near the current schedule, if at all possible.  We drive that intersection every day and know it could use help, but it is not essential  that the street work happens right now.  To get the street improvements now  as part of the city's redirected (possibly illegal) Hildebrand drainage project means sacrificing the river at the top of Brackenridge Park:  at the northern terminus of the current San Antonio River Improvements Project!  

And that is simply not acceptable.  

If the City cannot allocate funds to continue the street improvements on schedule -- and we believe they can* -- we may just have to wait for the 2012 bonds.  

* remember the impressive $47 million in bond savings the City Manager is managing!

What we mean by "headwaters"

Consider these definitions we use for "headwaters": 

headwaters (with a little "h") – generically, the upper tributaries of a river; the source of a stream or river; specifically, the area or place where the San Antonio River begins.

headwater spring – the historic mainspring called the San Antonio Spring, or Blue Hole, once the 6th largest spring in Texas; described in the 1850’s as a fountain spring, giving birth to the San Antonio River: “The whole river gushes up in one sparkling burst from the earth,” according to Frederick Law Olmstead who visited the area in 1857.

The Blue Hole, or San Antonio Spring
(Note the blueish tint that gives the Blue Hole its name.)

For thousands of years,
Native Americans have called this
once magnificent spring
Yanaguana,” which means
“up-flowing waters of the spirit.”

headwaters basin -- the spring-filled basin surrounding the Blue Hole with many smaller and medium size springs contributing flow to the river at its source; contains pre-historic deposits and artifacts dating back 12,000 years indicating a very long history of human presence; generally includes the lower Olmos Basin, all of the Incarnate Word property (congregation, sanctuary, retirement center, and university), the Episcopal Diocese’s Cathedral Park, 200 Patterson Condominiums, parts of the Alamo Heights neighborhood, and the upper end of Brackenridge Park.

A Field of Springs

Adapted from Gunnar Brune's Springs of Texas
The Blue Hole is the farthest red dot to the east.
See more where this came from on Gregg Eckhart's Edwards Aquifer website

Headwaters Sanctuary – that centerpiece of the headwaters basin that the Incarnate Word Sisters established as a nature sanctuary in 2008 when they deeded 60 acres of land including the Blue Hole to the nonprofit Headwaters Coalition, Inc., a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. It is bounded by Olmos Creek and Dam, Highway 281, and envelopes the UIW athletic complex.

The Headwaters Sanctuary (blue line) is bounded by Olmos Creek and Dam
and surrounds the UIW athletic complex.

Now you know:  we never suggested there was a controversial storm sewer planned to outfall at the headwater spring (the Blue Hole).  However, there is a very controversial, over-sized storm sewer -- with all its pollution, trash and high volume, high velocity stormwater -- scheduled for construction very soon in the Brackenridge Park part of the headwaters basin. This fact should have us all alarmed!

Stay tuned!

Monday, March 14, 2011

"I Love the many other people do."

What nine year old Elena wrote to our city leaders about the headwaters of the San Antonio River is nothing new, but it is still profound.  People have had a love affair with this river for thousands of years.  And no wonder.  Historically, the river “gushe[d] up in one sparkling burst from the earth” and was “classed as the first water among the gems of the natural world” (Frederick Law Olmstead, 1857).  Native Americans know the spring as “Yanaguana,” which means “up-flowing waters of the Spirit.”  In its glory days, San Antonio Spring gave rise to the clear big beautiful San Antonio River that has drawn people to its banks since prehistoric times – and still does. 

Elena was baptized in the springs at the headwaters of the San Antonio River.  Like the Native American peoples before her, she knows the sacredness of the place.  And so do many leading members of the San Antonio community who last June “visioned” a future for the historic headwaters that does honor to this sacred place.  San Antonio Spring – now more commonly known as the Blue Hole -- has always been and remains a font of spiritual renewal for peoples of many different faith journeys.  And if the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word through their Headwaters ministry have their way, it will continue to as long as the spring waters flow.

Some say these historic springs gave birth to our city.  The pure prolific reliable water supplied by these springs led Spanish colonialists in the 1700’s to choose the San Antonio River as the place to build their missions and mission churches.  The missions in turn gave rise to the settlement of San Antonio which has since grown up to become the major American city that we are.  The missions and the springs remain an important part of our living history as they have for centuries. 

“...without doubt one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, places in Texas, its woodland grace and park like beauty so heightened by the perpetual mystery of its profound and noble springs.  This is the Head of the River.  There are other fine properties in this neighborhood with exceptional water advantages and privileges, but this property was really the key to the situation, the Ojo de Agua, the birthright of the city.” (William Corner, 1890)

San Antonio’s love affair with its river has seen plenty of stormy times too.  In the 1860’s, the early town of San Antonio used the river as a sewer and waste disposal system.  That abuse gave rise to cholera epidemics that killed hundreds of early San Antonians.  These epidemics of water-borne disease inspired the Catholic Bishop’s call to the Incarnate Word Sisters in France “seek[ing] relief at [their] hands.”  Three Incarnate Word Sisters answered the call, and upon arrival in San Antonio, founded the city’s first infirmary – an institution we now know as the Christus Santa Rosa Health system, one of the largest Catholic health systems in the country.  The Congregation of Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word have been founding important lasting institutions in health care, social services, and education ever since.  More recently, the Incarnate Word Sisters founded a new Earth care ministry, offering their healing hands to the care of God’s creation particularly at the headwaters of the San Antonio River. 

1915: Sister with cows
More than a century ago the Incarnate Word Sisters rooted their Congregation at “The Head of the River.”   In 1897 when they acquired the property from Col. George Brackenridge, they described their new home at the headwaters as “truly an overindulgence by Divine Providence.” It consisted of “283 acres of land, 90,000 gallons of water per day, and a magnificent river which passes through our land.”  These founding Incarnate Word Sisters had a wonderful eye for real estate, and the Congregation has enjoyed 114 years of relationship with this historic land and special waters ever since.  But the growth of other important ministries, such as the University of the Incarnate Word and The Village at Incarnate Word (a full service retirement center) have had unintended consequences for the river and its headwaters springs.  Even the purest love can be neglectful at times...

One of the stormier episodes in San Antonio’s love affair with its river occurred in the 1960’s.  The abundance of water in the river was seen by the growing city as an enemy to people and property due to damaging floods.  The river was channelized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into near straight concrete ditches to confine and convey the river out of town as quickly as possible.  Among the many consequences, the historic missions were cut off from the river, and the ecology and archeological treasures of the channelized river were devastated.   

But time passes and our understandings evolve.  With a greening consciousness occurring worldwide, San Antonio in the late 1990’s took another look at its historic river and decided it could use some help -- a little facelift, if you will.  The San Antonio River Improvement Project (SARIP) was thus born.  Thirteen years and $300 million later, most parts of the river have been lifted up, restored, beautified and celebrated with an eye to bringing people back to their beloved river.  The “Museum Reach” is now complete with its extension of the River Walk up to the museum district.  The “Mission Reach” is currently under way with efforts to undo some of the damage from channelization in the ‘60’s and to restore the native ecology to the river banks.  The San Antonio Missions are being reconnected to the river through portals and the history of the river is being told along its now more sinuous course.

In light of these developments to do honor to the San Antonio River which has given our community so much, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word did a visionary historic thing of their own.  In 2008, they gave their last remaining undeveloped acreage at the Head of the River for preservation as a nature sanctuary, privately owned by the nonprofit Headwaters Coalition, but free and open to the public.  The Headwaters Sanctuary includes the San Antonio Spring (Blue Hole) – the mainspring -- as well as 50 some acres of the “spring field” containing many medium-sized and smaller springs that make up the Incarnate Word part of the headwaters.  With the founding of the Headwaters Coalition, and the deeding of the headwaters land, a new ministry of the Incarnate Word Sisters was born.    

Out of this relatively new Earth care ministry has grown a unique opportunity in time and space to connect the historic springs at the Blue Hole to the rest of the river in Brackenridge Park by way of a foot trail with safe passage under a redesigned Hildebrand Bridge. In this way the river would be joined from its historic source at the famous spring to the southernmost Mission Espada.  The importance of the Catholic Church to the development of this region would be woven right into the river and its history as the lifeblood of San Antonio:  the living Mission churches in the south and the Incarnate Word Sisters with three of their ministries at the source – the Village, the Headwaters, and the University.

This final “reach” as an addendum to the San Antonio River Improvement Project has been dubbed the “Spiritual Reach of the San Antonio River,” and for good reason.  Not only is it located in the faith community of Incarnate Word, but it is also a place Native American peoples have long held sacred, singing yanaguana, place of the spirit waters.  Another important faith community at the headwaters is our neighbor, the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, with their 20-acre sanctuary called Cathedral Park containing a number of lovely natural springs.  The sacredness of all these springs is not lost on us even as they cease, at times, to flow.  Like hope itself, they will always spring forth again bringing new life.  And so, too, will this extraordinary Congregation of Sisters who have suffered (like so many) from diminishing numbers and whose future has at times seemed uncertain.

natural artesian springs

As hopeful and exciting as this river extension opportunity sounds, it is now threatened as never before by a massive storm sewer the City is planning to build in the headwaters area just below the Hildebrand Bridge.  The Hildebrand storm sewer involves two huge concrete tunnels (called box culverts) that are 6 by 9 feet each.  These tunnels are big enough to drive a Volkswagon Bug through! They would dump into the San Antonio River at the very northern terminus of the current San Antonio River Improvement Project:  at the very point of connectivity with the envisioned “Spiritual Reach.”  The storm sewer would carry and convey all the trash and non-point source pollution picked up from our urban landscape when it rains and put it with concentrated force into the river at a very sensitive location.  The high volume, high velocity flow hitting the shallow river would very likely erode its natural stream banks which are known to be full of prehistoric deposits dating back thousands of years.  The west bank of the river across from the outfall also contains remnants of the Spanish colonial acequia system, which would be impacted by the storm sewer, despite what the city-hired consultants might suggest. This so-called drainage solution is vintage 1950's, but we are living in the 21st century in a city striving to be more green.

Problems with Stormwater Outfalls:

Trash from 281 outfall after a heavy rain
Erosion from 281 outfall onto Headwaters

Simply put, better alternatives exist to solving our drainage problems -- alternatives that do not risk as much injury to the river and its adjacent historical resources.  Some of those alternative solutions are being investigated by the County in its county-wide flood control study, some have already been explored -- and mysteriously rejected -- by the City, and other even more progressive ideas are beginning to circulate in San Antonio.

So where did this idea for a storm sewer in the headwaters come from?  In 2007, San Antonio voters approved a series of drainage bonds to improve street flooding and protect property during heavy rains.  One of those drainage projects aimed to carry stormwater from the Broadway-Hildebrand intersection (which floods easily) and put it in an underground drainage system under Broadway (Broadway Corridor Phase IIIA).  For reasons that appear to be purely political, the City re-routed the originally conceived drainage system to run west under Hildebrand and outfall into the San Antonio River near its headwaters.   Why this major change in a voter approved project was made remains a mystery.  It appears to benefit no one, while risking injury to the river at a very sensitive location. 

 The Hildebrand drainage project (aka storm sewer) involves two huge concrete tunnels (called box culverts) that are 6 by 9 feet each.  These tunnels are big enough to drive a Volkswagon Bug through!  They would outfall into the San Antonio River near its headwaters...
This now controversial drainage project has only recently come to light for many stakeholders, including the Headwaters Coalition and the Incarnate Word Sisters.   Apparently, a couple of years ago the drainage project was bundled with a number of street and overhead utilities improvements at the Broadway-Hildebrand intersection that property owners Koontz/McCombs, AT&T and the University of the Incarnate Word wanted.  That way drainage bond funds could be used to pay for all of these improvements.  And the result is that the bitter pill of a massive controversial storm sewer in the headwaters could be disguised behind (or sugar-coated with) the intersection improvements, including turn lanes, buried overhead utilities, new street signals, and the like. 

The public vetting of this project has consisted of only two public meetings and focused details on the street and utility improvements with only obscure mention of the drainage features.  ("We left the technical details out of the public presentations.")  The news media has focused its very limited coverage on the street improvements, the traffic disruptions and the benefits to come from all the mess, paying scant attention to the dangers of and mounting opposition to the storm water outfall.

So many of us have heard of the Broadway-Hildebrand street and intersection improvements which sound desirable and good, but few people are aware of the existence -- much less the size and scale -- of the storm sewer in the headwaters of the San Antonio River.  And it is about ready to go to construction with hardly anyone in the general public even knowing about it.  This ill-conceived drainage project goes against everything the publicly-supported San Antonio River Improvement Project seeks to accomplish in doing honor to our river.  And it virtually wipes out a unique opportunity to complete the historic river project all the way to its source at the headwater springs.  

This entire river connectivity issue is not just about celebrating the river and its role in San Antonio's past and present life.  It is about charting a new future for our children in which we live more honorably and respectfully on the land and with the water -- using the resources the Earth provides, but not abusing them.  It is about finding a more perfect (less stormy) love for our river, which is, after all, the birthright of our city.  It is about honoring the values we hold dear in San Antonio:  natural beauty, history, and our river. 

And it is about leaving a legacy of love for all of Creation to the children who come after us.  

Thank you, Elena, for reminding us of our obligations to you, your fellow young citizens, and the world you will inherit -- and that you will in turn steward for the generations that come after you.   

Concerned?  Want to help?  Consider these actions, and please act fast!
  • Add your voices to Elena's!  Send a letter to the editor.  Blog. Tweet. Chirp!  (...chirp?!)
  • Come to City Council March 31 when City staff hope to gain approval to let a contract to build.
  • Write and call the City Manager, the Mayor, and your council persons.
  • Circulate this story via social media!
  • Get a Don’t Mess with the Headwaters bumper sticker from the Headwaters Coalition and use it!
  • Support the Headwaters Coalition with your time, talent and treasure.
  • Do as the Sisters do and pray for the just and proper resolution of this unfortunate conflict.