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A vigil to protect the Scituate Reservoir



Reverend Brendan Curran, associate pastor at Barrington Congregational Church UCC, lead a a group of about two dozen people on a march from the North Scituate Public Library to the Scituate Reservoir for a vigil “to honor and protect the water.”

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is moving ahead with his plan to “monetize” Providence Water, which includes a plan to enter into a public-private partnership with a company that will take over day-to-day operations of the water system that includes the Scituate Reservoir and serves 60 percent of Rhode Island’s population.

“We will encircle the water with our our hearts, prayers, poems, songs, personal sharing, or simply our presence,” wrote Curran. “All are welcome to share whatever they feel gives thanks for the water and sets the intention of protecting the water for all and for future generations. We acknowledge the original peoples on whose stolen land the water dwells. We intend to lift up hopes for healing among the peoples, the water, and our shared connection to the land. People will join hands around the water. Our circle will grow wide. We will be a circle of healing and protection around the water, our life source.”

Every participant was given a chance to speak. Reverend Curran began with prayer, song and poetry.

“A Gaelic/Irish tradition during February is to make Bridgette Crosses. Bridgette is the Goddess of Ireland and she’s associated with wells and water sources, fires, and poetry and healing,” said Curran. “She was so wonderful the Catholic Church made her a Saint.”

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John Gonzalez brought water from Indian Lake Shores, where he lives, to unite with the water in the reservoir.

Nicole DiPaolo offered a poem she wrote.

“I have here seven watermelon slices, candy watermelon slices and I will put them on my altar. I was going to leave them here but I actually want to bring them back with me. And I’d live the energy of all of you to bless them…

“Luckily I’ve always lived near a body of water, my whole life. I’ve always gone and stared at the water whenever I had a life problem… I’ve done my best thinking at the water…”

“I live in the next town over,” said Lauren Niedel. “I’ve been fighting the power plant that they want to build in the next town over from there, in Burrillville. That power plant is part of this water issue. Johnston, the next town over from here, wants to sell this water to Invenergy, to destroy the habitat of Burrillville for profit, for Johnston. We do not live in a line, we live in a circle…”

“Water has this interesting duality. It is both the gentlest substance in the world, and the strongest…”

“It is the purity of this that unites what we’re standing for. I’m just grateful that there’s a cause larger than ourselves, but that unites everybody…”

“We need to stop any privatization of this, and there are other fights surrounding privatization. Taking back control. We can’t let the take this…”

“We know water if life, just like all of you, and we certainly don’t want our water being fed to Invenergy…”

“Just to express gratitude to my high school chemistry teacher in Middleboro, that she took us to test the water of the Nemasket River, where we grew up, way before i was grown up enough to realize how awesome that was…”

“What people do to Mother Earth is what they are capable of doing to other human beings…

“The privatization of water is reducing it to the labor it provides, in the way we reduce people to the labor they produce for profits…

“I want to say how thankful I am that we all came together today. I feel that we are … often disconnected from the earth and from each other,” said Reverend Curran. “So to connect with this place and honor this place and be with this place and each other seems to make it all real and it’s very healing, I think…

Brendan Curran

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.