Mapes Creek Banner

Mapes Creek Multicultural Blessing April 27 9am

April 25, 2024

Since moving the world headquarters of the Cascadia Poetics Lab to Rainier Beach in July 2017, I have become enamored with Mapes Creek, or what the First People of this place called dxʷwuqʷəb – place of loon. It pops up out of the ground south of legendary Kubota Garden, gets sent through ponds and up to create waterfalls, passes through Sturtevant Ravine and then flows mostly through underground pipes before the last 440 feet of it is daylighted in Be’er Sheva Park.

The Cascadia Poetics Lab is a partner in the Engage, Educate and Discover at Mapes Creek project, spearheaded by Fish Ecologist Ashley Townes and neighborhood activist Shannon Waits, both members of the Rainier Beach Link2Lake committee. This project is funded through the King County Flood Control District’s WRIA 8 Cooperative Watershed Management Grants. We see this project as completely aligned with the mission of the Cascadia Poetics Lab: “Empowering people to practice poetry & deepen connections to place, self & the present moment. We believe that poetry is the nexus at which self-knowledge, bioregionalism and expansive creativity converge. Cascadia Poetics Lab is a vibrant community whose workshops, festivals, and opportunities for connection can open the door to transformative experiences.”

At 8:45 on the morning of Saturday, April 27, 2024, we’ll gather with people from various traditions to learn about their perspectives on nature and water and how it is regarded and/or venerated. In addition to Ashley Townes, other speakers will be Kosho Itagaki, a Soto Zen priest and chief priest of Eishoji, a Soto Zen training facility in Rainier Beach, Tetsuzen Jason Wirth, a Soto Zen Priest and docent at Kubota Garden, Reverend Judith Laxer, a licensed, Ordained SHES (Spiritual Healers and Earth Stewards) Minister and Priestess, Armaye Eshete and Nagessa Dube of Serve Ethiopians Washington, a group that has been cleaning litter and non-native species from the creek’s riparian zone in the park. The skunk cabbage is out now and the creek looks beautiful. Plan to meet near the restrooms. If raining we will be under the new shelter near the restrooms.

Tetsuzen Jason Wirth will also discuss the creek, and efforts to protect it, in the context of ecological reason as articulated in a new essay published in the journal Research in Phenomenology, entitled: “Affordances: on Luminous Abodes and Ecological Reason.”

This is an essay on place in light of the ecological crisis as an exercise in what Pierre Charbonnier has recently called ecological reason, that is, “the environmental reflexivity of our species.” How do the roots of our prevailing political and economic relationships to the many lands that sustain us appear retroactively from the perspective of ecological reason? In a kind of tragic reversal, the mad rush to global prosperity and political dignity now appears as the emerging catastrophe of our failure to heed the terrestrial affordances that sustain us. I explicate this problem and root about for responses to it by lacing together the recent work of Charbonnier as well as John Sallis, Bruno Latour, and Brian Burkhart in a single weave of place-specific thinking. How can we begin to rethink place from the ground up? (READ MORE.)

Nagessa Dube will talk about indigenous traditions in Ethiopia as related to water and nature. This should be a remarkable event. I am grateful to work on such an important task in the neighborhood in which I live and with such dedicated, committed individuals.


Dr. Jason Wirth

Dr. Jason M. Wirth

is professor of philosophy at Seattle University, and works and teaches in the areas of Continental Philosophy, Buddhist Philosophy, Aesthetics, Environmental Philosophy, and Africana Philosophy. His recent books include Nietzsche and Other Buddhas: Philosophy after Comparative Philosophy (Indiana 2019), Mountains, Rivers, and the Great Earth: Reading Gary Snyder and Dōgen in an Age of Ecological Crisis (SUNY 2017), a monograph on Milan Kundera (Commiserating with Devastated Things, Fordham 2015), Schelling’s Practice of the Wild (SUNY 2015), and the co-edited volume (with Bret Davis and Brian Schroeder), Japanese and Continental Philosophy: Conversations with the Kyoto School (Indiana 2011). He is the associate editor and book review editor of the journal, Comparative and Continental Philosophy. He is currently completing a manuscript on the cinema of Terrence Malick as well a work of ecological philosophy called Turtle Island Anarchy. He is an ordained priest in the Soto Zen lineage. He is co-editor of Cascadian Zen, a collection of poems and essays dedicated to awakening the mind to bioregional thinking in general and to Cascadia in particular. He is a Founding Editor of Watershed Press.

Nagessa Oddo Dube

Nagessa Oddo Dube

My name is Nagessa Oddo Dube, a legal professional with degrees in law from Addis Ababa University (LLB) and Seattle University (LLM). Previously, I served as the Deputy Attorney General in Oromia state of Ethiopia. Currently, I am the program manager at Serve Ethiopians Washington, where I am dedicated to advocating for environmental justice. Additionally, as a former prisoner of conscience, I remain committed to my passion for civil rights and social justice.

Rev Judith Laxer

Rev. Judith Laxer

is a modern-day mystic who believes that humor, beauty and the wonders of nature make life worth living. The Founding Priestess of Gaia’s Temple, keynote speaker, teacher of the mysteries, and author of Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers [Ravenswood Publishing], Judith dedicates her work to restoring the balance between feminine and masculine energy in our culture.,

Ashley Townes

Ashley Townes

Ashley Townes is a fervent fish ecologist, educator, and advocate for environmental justice with a global perspective. Currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Fisheries Ecology at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, her research delves into the breeding behaviors of sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and explores the habitat preferences of juvenile chinook in Lake Washington in Seattle, Washington. Ashley possesses a rich background in program design, environmental monitoring and assessment, and cross-cultural communication, holding an M.A. from the School of International Training Graduate Institute and a B.A. from Tufts University.
Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Ashley’s journey has taken her across over 50 countries on six continents, where she has engaged in study, research, and professional development with various international organizations and institutions. Her work focuses on crafting impactful community-based environmental projects, using the latest technologies in field research, creating statistical models for predicting animal population trends, and developing best practices for natural resource management and
salmon recovery.
Prior to her Ph.D. studies, Ashley’s diverse career includes roles such as an Environmental Program Coordinator for the Huasquila Reforestation Program in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, a Linguistic Data Analyst at the University of Pennsylvania’s Linguistic Data Consortium, a Recycle Specialist at Cascadia Consulting Group, and an Environmental Technician at King County’s Water and Lands Resources Division. She served as the 2022-2023 Washington Sea Grant Keystone Fellow, a program under the guidance of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), collaborating with the Port of Seattle on innovative habitat restoration initiatives, including blue carbon research, fish and habitat monitoring, and shoreline assessments.
Beyond her professional endeavors, Ashley is passionate about discussing environmental topics, classic films, and international travel. In her spare time, she loves creating video documentaries, attending photo exhibitions, swimming, canoe camping, and sampling new cuisines around the world.
Armaye Eshete

Armaye Eshete

Armaye is a social non-profit entrepreneur who made an impact on the lives of Ethiopian and other East African immigrant communities in King County, Washington State during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a passion for community service and a drive to create positive change, he co-founded Serve Ethiopians Washington (SEW) during the challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic. He moved to the United States six years ago seeking new opportunities. With a background in Sociology, he understood the importance of addressing the social, economic, and health challenges faced by Ethiopian and other East African immigrant communities, especially during times of crisis. Recognizing the urgent need for support during the COVID-19 pandemic, he took action to contribute in reducing its negative impact on Ethiopian and East African immigrants in King County, Washington State.
Kosho Itagaki

Kosho Itagaki

is a Soto Zen priest. He is the chief priest of Eishoji, a Soto Zen training facility located in the southern part of the city of Seattle and also operating director of the Northwest Zen Community. After training at Saijoji Soto Zen monastery under the Rev. Suigan Yogo (located in Min-ami Ashigara, in the Kanagawa Prefecture) and Hoonji Soto Zen monastery under the Rev. Amafuji Zenko (located in Morioka, in the Iwate Prefecture), he received Dharma transmission from the Rev. Saikawa Dosho. After working for seven years as the resident priest at Zenshuji Soto Zen temple on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, he moved to Seattle in 2006 and founded the various facilities and programs that comprise the Northwest Zen Community. Eishoji received its name from the Rev. Donin Minamizawa, abbot of Daihonzan Eiheiji, in 2010 and moved into its present location in 2012. 

Mapes Creek Blessing Sponsor logos


  1. Steven L Roberson

    Looking forward to harvesting the wisdom that will be on display

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

dashed cool colors line

You May Also Like

Less Than One Month

Less Than One Month

18th Poetry Postcard Fest Registration Update with 13 groups already formed with less than a month to go.

Robert Michael Pyle Interview

Robert Michael Pyle Interview

Bob met me at the retro Atomic Motel and we talked for over an hour about his new book, the poems in it, his childhood, bioregionalism, his trip to Cuba, Vladimir Nabokov’s notion via biographer Brian Boyd of “attending to the individuating detail” of one’s life (an upgrade from the same notion I’ve gotten from Blake and Pound) and his general “thing” “close attention to the natural world.” It’s the June 2024 Cascadian Prophets podcast: