Prove your humanity

This story was originally published on March 26, 2021.

WHYY asked five individuals to tell us about their visions for the Delaware River Watershed — what it is, and what it could be.

Adriana Amador-Chacon is a Camden resident who, over the years, has grown a strong connection toward the arts and learning more about the environment. As a child, she was known for either being outdoors exploring nearby woods and climbing trees, or inside watching “Our Planet” documentaries. These influences can be seen today within her craft: She’s a painter who focuses on depicting plants and animals outside her work with the Center for Aquatic Sciences. You can find her on Instagram @brrontte, where there is a link to her online RedBubble store.

LISTEN to Adriana Amador-Chacon tell her story

One of the first things my family and I did when we moved to Camden was to walk over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. We walked the whole bridge to Philly, and just seeing the whole view for the first time, it was amazing. It’s still amazing to this day.

In the summer, I can see a lot of sailboats, a lot of people on jet skis, kayaking, and shipping containers. Sometimes, you’ll see fish jump up and catch their food, and it’s awesome.

The fact that there’s so many moving parts just happening right here at the Delaware River gives us an idea of just how much water impacts humans and everything around it: animals, birds, insects.

That’s one of the main reasons I actually love living by this river, because I can just step out of my house and literally be right here on the river, and I can see all the life that goes through it, see all the life that’s around it.

But I’ve also seen oil on top of the river, and a lot of plastics. I’d like to see less of that. I would like to see teams of people on the river cleaning it up, as a way to build community and help the environment.

I believe that doing something so interactive with your neighbors is very helpful, but I don’t see it as a final step. With so many new technologies intended to assist in slowing or preventing the current climate dilemma, I believe that until we can have access to these technologies, we must do our part by doing research, and practicing environmentally friendly habits now.

Adrianna Amador-Chacon, 20, of Camden, stands near the Delaware River at Cramer Hill Nature Preserve. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

As someone who believes in the phrase, “If you don’t make time for wellness, you make time for illness,” I believe that it’s better to work on the issues we see today and not wait until they get too far out of our control tomorrow. We all need each other because we’re all part of a community.

Everything we do impacts people not only in our area, but also across the world. Just recognizing how much responsibility we have as people, it’s massive.

Adrianna Amador-Chacon, 20, walks past an abandoned car at Cramer Hill Nature Preserve in Camden. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

We also have to incorporate play in life, have fun with what we do. Currently, I’m following an alternative path to education. With the help of local internships, I’ve learned basic coding, website design, video editing, basic animation, and more.

I plan on leaving a creative mark on the city of Camden for future generations through painting workshops, collaborating on murals around the city, and art events for everyone to come together and bask in the creativity of their community.

Adrianna Amador-Chacon, 20, of Camden, walks along the Delaware River at Cooper’s Poynt Park. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

With the individual efforts of those who trust they have the power to help the planet, we can ensure that the human race can enjoy the comforts of the earth for a while longer. Now, we just have to wait for the politicians to get themselves together.

The audio was reported and produced by WHYY’s climate and environment reporter Susan Phillips.

This series of essays is part of the broader “From the Source” project and is supported by the Lenfest Institute, the National Geographic Society, and the William Penn Foundation.