A Story of a River
“Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.”
My access to education and degree in biology has privileged me with knowledge regarding environmental injustices against the land and the people who inhabit it. But my understanding of science and the impacts of environmental degradation is largely inaccessible to the public, even though there is a clear correlation between public health and the health of our environment. Though I grew up in Seattle, I did not learn about the history of the Duwamish people or the land they inhabited. Our cultural and historical amnesia has resulted in economic and environmental inequalities with devastating impacts.
The Duwamish River has been an integral and highly manipulated component of Seattle’s landscape. Seattle was built on Duwamish land and the Port of Seattle literally carved into the river. Today, because of industrialization, it is a superfund site. In Seattle, there is a nine-year life expectancy difference between South Park and Magnolia, predominantly due to economic, social, and environmental issues related to the area around the Duwamish River.
My project focuses on some of the consequences that industrialization and capitalism have had on the Duwamish River. It’s easy to ignore an issue when you don’t “see” it and when scientific data is misunderstood or inaccessible. As a biologist and photographer, I possess the tools to act. My goal is to create awareness and understanding of the complexities, beauty, and the necessity to preserve and repair the Duwamish River and its historic significance in our region.
I ask the question: what level of proof do we need about the harmfulness of our actions before action is taken? I believe that a well-informed public has the potential and power to create change.
Born and raised in the greater Seattle area, Kathryn Hofius is a biology major and a freelance photographer. In her latest work, Hofius blurs the line between science and art in nature, merging ecology with photography to portray the human alterations of the Duwamish river. Hofius believes that the beauty of life is profoundly realized through experiences in our natural environment. Conservation is an urgent and a vitally important component to this conviction.