Thriving during lockdown: we’ll bring river inspiration to you

We know how much you love your rivers, and how much you’re missing them during this lockdown.

Suddenly everyone is appreciating our blue-green spaces like never before, realising how crucial it is that everyone has access to nature where they live.

It’s made us even more committed to our vision of liberating and protecting our rivers – and making them more accessible to their communities. Rivers are why we’re here. Why London was founded in the first place, and how our industries powered themselves and transported their materials. We’re quietly and determinedly continuing this work during lockdown: planning further river restoration, natural flood management  and river improvement work, communicating with volunteers through remote technology, collating citizen science and hosting Catchment Partnerships. Watch out for a new Thames River Watch report out soon on plastic pollution; and a short film about the river Brent, created in collaboration with local volunteers.

We’ve thought long and hard about how we can support those of you who can’t access rivers during this time, or who are frustrated at not being able to take action.

We wanted to see if we could somehow package the magic that happens at a Thames21 event and see if we can share it with you in other ways.  So just what is it about our events that keep 7000 people volunteering with us a year?

We think it’s to do with wellbeing.

We think it’s to do with being able to make a visible, immediate, tangible difference. Looking down on a foreshore and seeing it free of man-made plastic litter, restored back to its original state.

We think it’s to do with connecting with nature– getting distance from the built up environment. Hearing non man-made sounds like the sound of water lapping, waves crashing, the wind in the trees, coots honking and ducks laughing.

Being hypnotised by sunlight hitting water, the moving labrynth of river currents, ducks turning themselves upside down to sieve for food; cormorants hanging out their wings to dry like modern day pterodactyls.   

Feeling the wind coming off the Thames on your face, the tired muscles in your legs after a few hours lugging bags of plastic rubbish from the shore…

We think it’s to do with connecting with like-minded people – the power that comes when we join together on a common aim and do something for no other reason that it’s the right thing to do.

We think it’s to do with inspiration. The inspiration that comes from seeing what’s possible, and from joining forces with others.

It’s also about learning. We always learn something from each other on our events. And we share learning with passersby; who are often delighted that we’re looking after the river, and motivated by what we tell them about pollution and how to tackle it.

It’s to do with action and agency. We all need to feel that we can make a difference, to make a positive impact on our environment and our world.

So, during this lockdown, we’re going to try to replicate some of these outcomes. We’re going to try to keep you inspired, share learning, ways you can take action to make a concrete difference, and we’re also going to boost your wellbeing during lockdown by immersing you as much as possible in the sensory experience of rivers through  words, images and sound!

Head back to this page for more resources as we update them, and take a look around our You Tube account where we’ll post lots of interesting documentaries and talks. We’ll also be sharing resources on social media, so now’s the time to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram if you haven’t already!

River Inspiration

Some of our favourite documentaries, showcasing the beauty of rivers all over the world and how people have come together to protect them: 

The Undamaged – a documentary about clean, pristine and undammed rivers in the Balkan Peninsula facing the threat of planned hydroelectric dams and a group of kayakers determined to protect these rivers.

Planet Earth Recommended by our own Lily Mackie – a Planet Earth episode all about fresh water, following the descent of the world’s mightiest rivers from their mountain sources to the sea, including lots of breathtaking river scenery.

Artifishal – a film about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and their environments. It explores wild salmon’s slide toward extinction and threats posed by fish hatcheries and farms and what can be done to protect them.

The Blue Heart of Europe – another documentary about activists fighting to save rivers in the Balkan Peninsula from proposed hydropower dams, at a time when dams are being decommissioned throughout much of the developed world. 

The Super Salmon – an intimate and inspiring look into the impacts of the proposed Susitna-Watana dam on the Susitna River. It outlines the threats posed by the dam and the work of the Susitna River Coalition to protect the river and wildlife. 

DamNation – majestic cinematography moving through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, exploring the attitude change from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our future is bound to the life and health of rivers.