top of page
  • Cristina Joy Valverde

Catching Water: My Origin Story + This Project

Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

-- Henry David Thoreau

A Wild Love

As many good journeys begin, this odyssey probably seeded way back when I was just a wee one before time found me. I think many deep love stories originate from heartache who knows how old. We all come into this world crying, learning from our first breath that there will be separation, loss, cold, grief. We are completely dependent upon each other for survival, much less nurturing. Our life is gifted to us. And from here forward we are shaped by the world we are born out of. The mind-body-heart of a child are like a sponge gathering up all of the knowledge available to grow an understanding of – Who am I? Who are we? Why am I here? and Where did I come from? These are beautiful, nearly universal questions asked worldwide. And at pearl moments along the path of self-evolution these questions sometimes find answers singing true from the Ethers.

Threading back into the fabric of my own pulse of biophilic origins, and ultimately a pondering on what has led me down this path… This is a story I cannot claim to have caught, for it is alive and beautifully, messily intertangled with who I am ever becoming. In my youth there was great sadness and heartache, yet as always great blessings too. Nature was my best friend that kept me from ever feeling lonely. And thus I grew up knowing a great sadness in my soul for how I saw people treating the Earth and treating each other. And as it is so often in my life, I believe that spirit caught me - is catching me still - by the tale of a Wild Love that has never abandoned me, has known me always, and is the great weaver of my life. I am a child undying to that Love, humbled by the majesty of Natural beauty that surrounds us on this perfected Planet.

All that does not exist in that frequency of utmost Awe for our abundance and vibrant sustenance, I believe must have come from some tragic iteration of long-developed heartbreak and a lack of real nourishment. I want for all children, young & old, to know a closeness with the Universe, with the Nature of this Earth, as if it were their first and last love that they could trust with their heart forever. I am rich beyond my wildest dreams for that relationship I know as close as my own breath. Since as long as I can remember, I have wanted to know how to help my human family mend that connection with each other, with all living things.

Though small, I think this story may be one way.

Catching Water

In the Spring of 2020, with the uprooting that so many experienced from the infamous pandemic, I found myself thankfully ejected from downtown Los Angeles and welcomed on a friend's forested land in my old West Sonoma County stomping grounds. Within months, I had built a yurt in the splendor of expansive wild woods and found myself precious company with new landmates at a time when many things were changing, challenging, and falling away in my life. A dynamic balance of blessing and loss.

In the fall, a charming young girl and her dog “Cowboy” moved into a tent above my little yurt. She told me about the work she did with her Swiftwater Design crew, restoring riparian habitats with a very unique method - hand-building dams that mimic beavers. She encouraged me to join them on their next “hitch” as she called them, this one being especially meaningful as their first collaboration with a tribal group - the Mountain Maidu tribe of Northern CA, a federally unrecognized tribe who had just received 2,300 acres of land back from PGE. I had never heard of the Maidu people. I had never heard of beaver mimicry! I don’t think I knew much about beavers for that matter. And so I told her I’d love to join and document the project as an R&D mission, but on two conditions - 1) that the Maidu extend an invitation and blessing for me to come film the project in exchange for equal footage use. 2) that Swiftwater Design could cover my food and travel also in exchange for footage use… Within a couple days I got a call, and by the following week I was off grid and off the beaten path at Tasmam Koyom, ancestral Maidu land, sharing nightly fire circles under a full Halloween moon with the most enchanting, funny, and down-to-Earth people. We would wake to have coffee with the sunrise and spend the days tending to the landscape. It was a trip I will always remember, framed by absolute wonder. Could life be so joyful? Could it be so easy as making stick-fortress dams waist-deep in the creek with friends? Sharing a well-earned hot meal at the end of the day? Sleeping under the singing stars? Tracking animals and the changes over the seasons? Drinking fresh, cold water from the spring? … All in the name of “Restoration”.

Restoration of our spirits. Re-story-ation of the current common paradigm.

A potent introduction to all this encompasses and yet as timeless as a storybook. I’m grateful to be living that story. I could go on, but without frills and details, that is where this project began in Fall 2020.

Every step of the way with this film project since then has been a gift and an invitation. I made an agreement with the Universe that I'm not leading this one. It is not mine to lead, but one I am showing up to hold. And so it is with great gratitude and service that I co-create this project with those involved for the health of the relationships our future generations will have with this incredible Earth and with each other. May it be so.

Tasmam Koyom. Cold, clear wetland streams gather all kinds of life year-round. A bald eagle & its young perch in a snag centered in the photo.

Leave a message

Leave a comment or subscribe to my newsletters (sharing writings like these) which follow the ecological meanderings of my creative process and related thoughts on the human and more than human web of connections.

85 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Feb 15, 2023

Amazing, beautiful, touchstone.


Dec 13, 2022

Beautiful words Cristina, thank you.

bottom of page