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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
Creating new streams of consciousness

As people begin to understand the full value of ecosystem goods and services available from healthy river systems, they may begin to act in new ways. But it can be tricky to create new streams of consciousness and take the new actions that flow from them. Our habits of thinking and acting can be resistant to change.

For example, some people escape their responsibility through thought patterns that Sandra Steingraber refers to as "exit doors" for not responding:

Denial: We can exercise willful ignorance with denial and continue to pretend that serious problems don't exist and don't impact each of us; "Not seeing is another form of silence," (Steingraber, 1997).

Despair: We can fall into the depths of despair and hopelessness by the enormity of the situation and become paralyzed, believing that individual contributions are too small to make a real difference.

Delusion or opting out: We can delude ourselves into thinking that we can escape and avoid the environmental impacts: "I'll just drink bottled water" or "I'll stop eating fish if it has mercury" or "If a landfill comes in next door, I'll move."

Obviously these are responses that we CANNOT do. But what can we do? Fortunately, there are plenty of creative leaders and practical examples of positive next steps in the Section What We Can Do.

"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men."
-Abraham Lincoln

Sandra Steingraber
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