In 2015, the Path of the Puyallup expedition was a combination of hiking, biking and canoeing the length of the Puyallup River, from the glacier to the bay, sampling for microplastics in one of the first freshwater programs in the Pacific Northwest. Out of this experience grew the Middle School workshops, throughout the watershed and beyond, as well as public presentations and social actions centered on single-use plastic bags and bottles.
In 2021, the plan is to revisit the Puyallup, along with the White and the Carbon Rivers, to assess not only the environmental issues relating to plastic, but also to get an overall impression of the health of each of these waterways and the connections that different places have on other parts of the watershed. Together, these three rivers define the Puyallup watershed and their routes, their history, and the ability they have to shape the landscape and the people who live here is a fascinating look at where we are and where we are going.
The expedition itself will be made up of three different sections, tentatively scheduled for spring and early summer. In addition to the sampling and other data collection that will be done on each leg of the trip, the plan is for video documentation to be used in classroom curricula and social media, as well as a longer film project after the expedition has concluded. Every effort will be made to focus on the way that people interact with this environment, with both positive and negative effect, and engaging people at every opportunity is going to be key to making this project really useful.
While it is, at least in part, a journey through a wild landscape, there will be numerous opportunities to interact with the communities along each route, with public presentations and online information that clearly speaks to the issues and realities that shape the place we live. The lessons that can be taken from this expedition can be used for years and will be part of ongoing Ikkatsu Project programs going forward.