A SHORT HISTORY OF KAW
‘The Kansas Area Watershed (KAW) Council is the second-oldest bioregional organization in the United States, founded in 1982 out of the Appropriate Technology Center (AT Center) in Lawrence, KS. The story is that some members of the AT Center — a not-for-profit focused on self-reliance in energy, food, health and housing — attended the second Ozark Area Community Congress (OACC) in the fall of 1981, and came home inspired to begin bioregional congresses of and on the prairie. The first KAW Council was held May-day weekend in 1982 at Camp Hammond (located between Lawrence and Topeka).
Since that time, KAW Council has held annual gatherings every spring (always the last weekend of April or first weekend of May). In the early years, we focused a great deal on mapping our watershed and learning more about the prairie bioregion, of which the Kansas Area Watershed is part. The Kansas area watershed extends from the headwaters of the Missouri river confluence with the Kaw (or Kansas) river in Kansas City, MO. westward into CO. and North into Nebraska. The main river of the water, the Kaw (or Kansas), is named for the Kaw (or Kansa, or Konza) Indian Tribe, which lived in this area of the country before being pushed south by the Federal government onto a reservation in OK. KAW Council brings together those who resonate with living artfully and sustainability on the prairie. Past gatherings, events, potlucks, lectures, performances and publications abound (please scroll down to see more).
KAW COUNCIL FOCUS
We see ourselves as a group formed to foster greater community among those concerned about the ecological health of the prairie region and its inhabitants, and we also are committed to growing the kind of community that can keep unfolding and growing through many generations. To that end, one of the main focuses throughout the years has been the children who have grown up through KAW Council, and the ones who have come along in recent years. KAW kids often remark about how meaningful KAW gatherings have been in their lives, and many have gone on to do important bioregional work and craft ecologically-sound lives. Another eternal focus for KAW, because of our commitment to local food and building community, has been food, and almost all of our events feature breaking bread together.
KAW Council is also deeply commited to an inclusive, sane and effective group process. Many of us have — through our involvement with KAW — studied group process and facilitation over the years, and we’re happy to pass on what we’ve learned to other local organizations. The model of group process we favor comes from the bioregional movement by way of the Quaker’s form of “meeting” in which all are heard. We believe that group process can be joyful, efficient and life-giving.
KAW has also looked toward the arts as a way of learning more about how to live in our eco-places. Through the publication of Konza, our newsletter (LINK for next issue on-line) over two decades, we’ve brought together important voices on many aspects of bioregional living, including organic gardening, eco-poetics, community organizing, food co-operatives, mapping, historical research, all manner of the arts and much more. We’ve also participated in readings, celebrations and other arts-oriented events.
Finally, KAW has been an important presence for the bioregional movement of the Americas. Our help in organizing the first bioregional continental bioregional congress in 1984 was key. We also called together bioregional organizers from the U.S., Canada and Mexico in 2000 to discuss the state of the movement, and from that meeting, we ended up being the main organizers of the Continental Bioregional Congress on the Prairie in 2002. KAW members have been important guides, advisors and mentors to bioregional groups involved in organizing the 2005 congress, and the upcoming 2009 congress, and we also founded and help facilitate the Coordinating Council of the Continental Bioregional Congress, which includes members from throughout the Americas and meets monthly in phone conferences.