Photo: Jeremy Klaszus

You are here

A riverside reflection.

Last week, in between interviews for the next Sprawlcast episode, I found myself by the river.

My idea was to make a recording of the spot where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet. To capture the sounds of the water. Which I did.

But then, having accomplished my task, I lingered for awhile as the world went on around me. The river flowed on. People walked along the pathway behind me.

I sat and took it in.

I often hear mention, in passing, of this confluence and its significance. Take the City of Calgary website as an example: "The city of Calgary sits on fertile land where two rivers meet, where Indigenous Peoples have been gathering for thousands of years, sharing knowledge and storytelling, and planning for future generations..."

Many land acknowledgements use similar language. But it often strikes me, when I hear these words (and when I say them!), how thin they can seem. I have a sense of rushing by quickly.

What might we discover if we slowed down and went a little deeper? This question is animating my conversations for the next episode.

As I sat by the river, in front of an old and deteriorating Fort Calgary sign, three words jumped out at me.

You are here.

You see this all the time on maps, whether at the mall or in the mountains: you are here. A way of locating yourself.

For some reason, this struck me as a revelation. You are here. It's an old human story to set out, get disoriented, and need to come back, to try and understand why we set out in the first place. To find one's bearings again.

It happens again and again—this constant forgetting and remembering.

Photo: Jeremy Klaszus

In a city obsessed with the shiny and new, I wonder if we can really set a direction for the future without truly understanding the past—without better understanding ourselves in relation to a specific place.

And in Calgary, I keep thinking about this place by the two rivers.

You are here. How's that for a city slogan!

Stay tuned for the episode (and make sure to subscribe to Sprawlcast if you haven't already).

Jeremy Klaszus is editor-in-chief of The Sprawl.

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