Riparian: the banks of our love

A poetic conversation in praise of the San Francisco Bay

Samantha Wallen
4 min readMar 31, 2022


Photo by Roxann C on Unsplash

“when praise began to flow
we gathered and told these stories
and a culture of disdain released its chokehold
our eyes shone with love and even
reverence, which began to grow
when praise began to flow”

— irreplaceable: a collective praise poem for Great Salt Lake

We are less than eight years away from the 2030 deadline to cut the world’s emissions in half or face unimaginable consequences to human life. We are still nowhere near this target.

Something in too many of us remains stuck, dammed up, unable to change. And yet chunks of ice the size of Los Angeles are breaking off and melting in our rapidly heating seas. It’s time to find a way to flow into new ways of being, faster than might seem possible. It’s a big ask, but absolutely necessary. It might be enough to make you feel alone and doomed.

But we are inspired by the recent example set by the poet, Nan Seymour, and the collective of writers (and scientists!) who joined in creating a 2200 line choral poem expressing their love for Great Salt Lake in Utah, as well as their grief for what has been done to her.

Their writing became a ceremony for being with and witnessing her disappearance, for not being alone in their sorrow, and for the possibility of loving her back to life. They held vigil by her side as the state legislature met and they practiced caring for her openly, collectively. They put their attention where they wanted it to go: toward witnessing the grandeur and the pain of the living earth at this late hour on the clock of the world, in that very specific place.

April 2022 will mark our fifth year of collaboration during National Poetry Writing Month (to read our previous collaborations click here, here, here, and here), and this time our own minds are on the urgent need to be with and love our local waters in our specific place. We (Michelle and Sam) have been living and writing, each year throughout these poetic collaborations, across the waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Michelle lives in Richmond, California, less than 2 miles from the banks of the water, in the shadow of a Chevron refinery. And Sam lives in Mill Valley, in…



Samantha Wallen

Poet, writer, writing & book coach — Seeking to restore the soul of our world one word at a time…