Through photographs and words, Once and Future River: Reclaiming the Duwamish explores the complicated relationship between Seattleites and their only river. Central to the indigenous settlement that preceded the city, the Duwamish was critical to Seattle's founding and growth, but it has paid a steep price. Straightened, filled with trash and toxins, and generally neglected by those who benefited from it the most, the river was declared a Superfund site in 2001.
Long before then, however, some Seattleites were already trying to reclaim their river, and for almost twenty years, Tom Reese has documented the river landscape and the people engaged with this important place. His images bring forward what might seem like contradictions: a seal surfacing near an active sewage pipe, a family playing at a park adjacent to a barge loaded with scrap metal, a salmon swimming past a sunken tire. His attentive study offers a way not to turn away from this river, but rather to learn to understand the changed beauty of the Duwamish and the possibilities for its future.
Tom Reese is an independent photographer and editor. Eric Wagner writes about science and nature. James Rasmussen is a Duwamish Tribal member and director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.
"The marvelous Once and Future River is an instant classic. It illuminates what we lost in destroying the lower Duwamish River, and what our souls can gain from restoring it. Photographer Tom Reese and author Eric Wagner make tragic poetry out of a riverscape we've damaged and overlooked for a century, and miraculously generate hope from neglect. What beauty! What decay! What resurrection!"
-William Dietrich, author of The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby
"Describing the Duwamish River, poet Richard Hugo once wrote: 'This river's curves are slow and sick,' and just as many of Hugo's first poems rose up along that river, Tom Reese has turned his camera on the waterway for a number of years. The resulting photographs, with clarity and ache, bring us close up to this ruin of a river and our desperate attempts to restore it."
-Frances McCue, author of Mary Randlett Portraits and The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs
"What the Thames is for London, the Seine for Paris, the Spree for Berlin is what the Duwamish should be for Seattle. Instead, it is a dumping ground for industrial poisons. We have clogged its once fertile, scenic banks with an almost-unrelieved collection of manufactured grotesqueries. Yet here and there, some remaining trace of natural beauty, some creative human spark, still peeks out, and Tom Reese finds it. Once and Future River explores these stunning contrasts to help readers understand this place. It is, fundamentally, a book of hope. When people truly know the Duwamish, they can't help but love it. And we really need more people to love the Duwamish River."
-Denis Hayes, CEO, Bullitt Foundation