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Hope for Creation Conference

Care for the Water
April 22, 2023

Join the Hope for Creation Conference virtually using the link below.

Watch Live

Hosted by St. John’s Cathedral, in partnership with the Whitworth Office of Church Engagement and Fig Tree, the Hope for Creation Conference is designed to share a vision of hope for creation; spotlight local caretakers of land, water and air; and renew Spokane's leadership on environmental care.

Expo '74 was the first world's fair dedicated to the environment. It brought the topic of creation care to the world stage and helped shape the consciousness of the Spokane community. As we near the 50th anniversary of Expo '74, now is the time to look back at where we've been, consider carefully what is being done, and develop a road map for the future. Spokane was a leader in creation care then, and that leadership should continue.

All are welcome at this event – civic leaders, nonprofit organizations, faith communities, business people and engaged citizens. All points of view are needed, and the dignity of each person will be respected.

Attendance at all sessions is free of charge. No registration is required.


Event Schedule

All events will take place at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 127 E. 12th Ave, Spokane, WA 99202.

Saturday, April 22
8:30 a.m. Welcome with Dean Heather VanDeventer and Mayor Nadine Woodward
8:40-9 a.m. History of the People of this River with Craig Hill, Spokane Tribe
9-9:20 a.m. Wetlands: Critical Infrastructure for Man and Wildlife with Brian Walker, Turnbull NWR
9:20-9:40 a.m. Beaver Dam Analogs: Mimicking Nature's Ecosystem Engineer to Improve Riverine Ecosystems, with Sue Niezgoda, Gonzaga
9:40-10 a.m. The Future of Lake CDA with Caj Matheson, CDA Tribe
10-10:20 a.m. Care of Our Drinking Water, the Spokane Rathdrum Aquifer with Reanette Boese, Joint Board
10:20-10:30 a.m. Break
The City  
10:30-10:50 a.m. Water Resource Management with Kristen Zimmer, City of Spokane
10:50-11:10 a.m. A New Horizon: Recognizing the Right of the Spokane River to Exist with Jerry White, Riverkeepers
11:10-11:30 a.m. Relationships Matter: When Environmental Politics & Policy Fall Short with Kara Odegard, Measure Meant, and Matthew Morse, Kelly Patterson, and Hannah Richter, Gonzaga University
11:30 a.m.-noon Youth Choirs 
Noon-12:20 p.m. Break
12:20-12:40 p.m. Columbia Watershed: Restoring the Lower Snake River with Tanya Riordan, Save Our Wild Salmon
12:40-1 p.m. U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty with DR Michel, UCUT
1-1:15 p.m. Expo +50 with Matt Santangelo, coordinator EXPO +50
1:15-1:30 p.m. Feedback and next steps with John Wallingford, St. John's, and Breean Beggs, Spokane City Council President
1:30-4:30 p.m. Street fair and discussion groups (see below)
4:30 p.m. FLLC Earth Day Vigil

Discussion Groups 

(concurrent with street fair, 1:30-4:30 p.m.)

1:30-2:30 p.m.

  • Saltese flats story with Constance Holland, parishioner, Diocese of Spokane
  • Restorative actions; biochar for stormwater filtration with Gloria Flora, SOS
  • River Vision Plan with Gonzaga University seniors Abby Dodd, Grant Plotner, Christiana Schmer

2:30-3:30 p.m.

  • Water resource management technology; Preserving water resources; video and discussion group with Callie Bendickson, Itron
  • Landscape for water with Annikki Chamberlain,
  • Environmental advocacy with AC Churchill of Earth Ministries

3:30-4:30 p.m.

  • Panel discussion: Faith perspectives on care for water coordinated by Mary Stamp with Rabbi Tamar Malino, Temple Beth Shalom; Sreedharani Nandagopal, Hindu community; Ikani Fakasiieiki, Liberty Park United Methodist Church; Venerable Semkye, Sravasti Abbey; Shahd Khalili-Sangsari, Baha'i faith; and Naghmana Sherazi, Muslims for Community Action and Service (via video)

Special Events

Earth Day Vigil

Organized by Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington & North Idaho, the vigil will listen to those affected by ecological devastation and connect with others who are active in healing the earth. The vigil will take place at the end of day Saturday, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Street Fair Featuring Local Organizations

On April 22, 1:30-4:30 p.m., this outdoor fair will showcase local organizations, and will offer live music and food trucks. This portion of the event is open to the public.

Spokane Conservation District
Spokane Parks
Episcopal Creation Care
350 Interfaith
Earth Ministries
Silver Valley Community Resource Center
River Forum
Community Gardens
Third order Franciscans
LC Environmental Club
Inland NW Lands Conservancy
Spokane Audubon Society
Parks Board
Spokane Riverkeeper
Fig Tree
Spokane Zero Waste
League of Women Voters
Specialty Mobile
Ramstead Ranch
Third Order, Society of St Francis
Sierra Club
The Lands Council
Inland Empire Beekeepers Association 
River City Youth Ops


Jerry White Jr. 

White holds a BA in anthropology and a master’s degree in teaching from Whitworth University. Having learned advocacy while working at Save Our Wild Salmon, he joined the Spokane Riverkeeper, a project of the Center for Justice, in July of 2014. Prior to this he has been an advocate for fish and rivers for many years volunteering for Trout Unlimited and other organizations. As a Spokane Riverkeeper, he directs programs that advocate for healthy river flows, healthy ecosystems and native fish as well as clean water. This includes public education, addressing pollution from runoff, from waste water discharges, protecting shorelines and administering riverside litter pickups. White continues to partner, litigate and collaborate in work that involves local watershed issues as well as state-wide issues. White lives on the banks of the Spokane River with his wife, Karen, and enjoys the river each day.

Craig Hill

čt̓apsqé - Hill is a Spokane Tribal member working towards revitalizing the Spokane Salish language. After a year of learning the language with the Spokane Language House, he was recruited to their team and has been teaching for the last two years. Their mission is to provide an immersive learning space where they can produce fluent speakers of the Spokane language. As a language speaker, Hill hopes to elevate the language so that one day he can live in the Salish language and culture.

DR Michel

A member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Michel has over 36 years of experience in forestry and natural resource management, as well as the technical and policy aspects of working for tribes. He served eight years on the Colville Business Council as both the vice chair and the chair of the Natural Resource Committee. Michel enjoys camping on the Columbia River.

Caj Matheson

Matheson is the director of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources and an enrolled member of the tribe. He grew up on the reservation where he was taught many of the cultural customs of his people, especially those related to the natural world. It was during this time that he would learn about the history of the Coeur d’Alene territory and the importance of stewardship. He obtained his degree from the University of Idaho in organizational sciences and spent the first 20 years of his career in the private industry. He began working for the tribe in 2012 in the tribe’s Lake Management Department and was appointed the director of the Department of Natural Resources in 2017. In his position, Matheson oversees several programs, including fish & wildlife, forestry, wildland fire management, climate change, water resources, hazardous waste management, cultural resources protection, lands management, air quality and others. His primary role is to serve at the policy level, coordinating and consulting with tribal, state, and federal agencies as well as internally with the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council and staff. He represents the tribe in many political and legal spheres including the Columbia Basin Collaborative, the Upper Columbia Blocked Area Anadromous Fish Working Group, the Intertribal Timber Council, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Basin Environmental Improvement Project Commission, the CSRBA Water Adjudication and others. He continues to live with his wife on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation.

Brian Walker

Walker is the private lands biologist stationed at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge near Cheney, Wash. In that position he works with private landowners on voluntary habitat restoration projects across the Channeled Scablands and Spokane River watershed in Eastern Washington. Most of these voluntary projects focus on wetland and riparian habitat restoration efforts. Projects have included plugging of drainage ditches, shallow wetland excavations, replanting of riparian buffers and wetland borders and invasive weed control. He has a passion for engaging youth in these restoration projects to incorporate an environmental education and environmental stewardship aspect to the projects. Prior to working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Walker worked for The Lands Council on various water related issues in the greater Spokane watershed. Walker has an undergraduate and master's degree in environmental science with an emphasis in watershed management from Washington State University.

Kara Odegard

Odegard founded Measure Meant in 2017 to work with companies and organizations who value social and environmental responsibility and are ready to make a formal commitment to live those values. Her experience includes four years working with the City of Spokane to advance sustainability initiatives and climate action through stakeholder engagement and policy planning. Odegard and her team work with businesses at both the local and national level to address the climate crises through ESG frameworks and creative strategies. Odegard expects to graduate this fall from the University of Vermont with a Master’s in Leadership for Sustainability.

Reanette Boese

Boese grew up in Spokane. She has a bachelor’s degree in math with a chemistry minor and a master’s degree from Eastern Washington University in hydrogeology. She worked for Spokane County Water Resources for 22 years studying water quality and the watersheds of the Spokane Valley – Rathdrum Prairie (SVRP) aquifer and other aquifers in the area. For 18 of those years, she created the databases, mailing lists, and maps of potential contaminant sources over the SVRP aquifer for the Spokane Aquifer Joint Board (SAJB), a coalition of the water companies over the SVRP aquifer including the City of Spokane, under a contract between Spokane County and the SAJB. She also spent much of her time educating the public, adults and children, about the SVRP aquifer. She continues to work with the SAJB on the Potential Contaminant Source Inventory and education after retiring from Spokane County.

Sue Niezgoda, Ph.D., P.E.

Niezgoda is a professor of civil engineering at Gonzaga University and a registered licensed engineer. She has an emphasis in water resources engineering and teaches and conducts research in the areas of fluid mechanics, hydraulic engineering, stream restoration, soil erosion and sediment transport, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, and uncertainty and risk assessment. She is currently working on monitoring the effectiveness of beaver dam analogs to reduce downstream sediment loads and restoring depositional river valleys to a Stage 0 anastomosing channel network. She has also published a body of knowledge for the practice of stream restoration that can be used as a foundation for a national certification. She is an active member of the ASCE EWRI Hydraulics and Waterways Council River Restoration Technical Committee and River Restoration Northwest, a nonprofit organization aimed at advancing the science and standards of practice of river restoration through an interdisciplinary process-based approach.

Tanya Riordan

Riordan brings a unique combination of community development, political and government affairs experience to her work at Save Our Wild Salmon. Her work has been dedicated to community sustainability, social justice, environmental advocacy, and corresponding policy efforts across Eastern Washington. Some of her experience includes working as regional director for U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, campaign manager for Lisa Brown's congressional campaign, and with many diverse organizations, including a year in Rwanda with a network of health outreach and micro enterprise organizations, with Planned Parenthood as their vice president of external affairs, and as a consultant with nonprofit organizations, political campaigns, large scale community initiatives and coalitions, and small businesses. Riordan appreciates the challenge of skillfully navigating the nuances and complexity of community development efforts – including policy, advocacy, government relation activities, community mobilization and constituent engagement strategies. Her work often uses biomimicry (nature inspired solutions) as an important framework to creating sustainable solutions to our most pressing organizational and community issues. 

Kristen Zimmer

Zimmer has a bachelor’s degree in natural science education from Eastern Washington University and is a Certified Irrigation Auditor. She has worked for the City of Spokane for nine years studying the SVRP aquifer and the impacts of human behavior on water resources while building and managing the water conservation program. Her work includes public relations, program design, program management, community engagement, water quality reporting, marketing and creative asset design.