The Ripple: Rivers & Roads

Rivers & Roads

Imagine a world without roads. No highways, interstates, traffic lights, or roundabouts. For most of us, the only way of life we’ve ever known is shaped by our roads and the technologies that transport us – and what we consume – from place to place. Of course, many defining characteristics of modern life would be completely different or nonexistent without our modern road systems, but perhaps for now, we’ll focus on the implications that roads have on nonhuman entities.

Roads provide corridors for wildlife to move and feed along, but all too often are fraught with danger and death due to our mode of transportation: the car. A road might be likened to a river, providing a means to travel from place to place, but a true river is also a source of life and sustenance to all the creatures which depend on it. We have learned that cleaning up rivers benefits both humans and other species, and as is often mentioned, rivers are a crucial part of the proverbial web of life. 

Roads are not essential to supporting life on our planet, as rivers are, but we tend to think of roads as essential to our lives. As with much of modern human society, we need to learn to slow down and “be” with our surroundings, not at odds with our world. Perhaps slowing down while driving, especially on secondary roads, or taking walks along our quieter roads would help put us in touch with the myriad of nonhuman others with which we share our world. Roads do not have to be simply rivers of death to creatures who must cross them, but can be corridors for all of us to use, with respect to life.


Phoebe Gelbard

Phoebe is a teacher at Biocitizen and is currently studying environmental psychology and natural resources conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Phoebe has lived in the Pioneer Valley for all 19 years of her life, and when she is not leading young children through the rivers and woods of Western MA, she can be found doing the same with her friends and family. Check out this monthly column, The Ripple, here on Hilltown Families on the 4th Monday of every month to hear his stories about rivers in our region. Make the world of rivers bigger than the world of pavement inside of you!




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