Keep Vigil with Great Salt Lake throughout the 2024 Utah State Legislative Session

When the life of someone you love is at stake you stay with them.

Everyone is invited! Let us gather in a lake-facing way to make our love for Great Salt Lake visible.

From January 16th- March 1st 2024, we will be keeping vigil in front of the Utah State Capitol every Monday-Friday morning from 8-9 am and again each evening 5-6 pm of the legislative session. Each morning, we will stay with the lake in quiet meditation, each evening we will celebrate the lake and the life she sustains. Rather than protest, we will gather at the Capitol to offer our presence in this time of peril. We will bring a love so robust it will be hard to look away. We will gather to honor a great intelligence deserving of legally defensible personal rights, to sing back to a ever-singing and sentient entity. Great Salt Lake is the still vital and beating heart of life here in our bioregion. The center, not a periphery. A creator, not a commodity.

After two winters of keeping vigil on the shore of Antelope Island, we’re flocking to the Capitol to celebrate all the lives she sustains— from brine flies to bison, from microbialites to ten million birds!

Come as your lake-loving self and help us engulf the state house with blue and white sun-printed waves. Simply wear blue or if you prefer, dress up as a pelican, phalarope, or seagull. Would you like to be a brine shrimp for a spell? We’ve got you! The Making Waves for Great Salt Lake Artist Collaborative has been busy preparing for this occasion. We happen to have some human-sized wearable cardboard brine shrimp on hand.

Design Your Own Vigil:

Perhaps you’d like to come make music every evening for a week or maybe you’d rather meditate on behalf of the lake every Wednesday morning throughout the session. You may feel moved to be present every day throughout the session as a show of devotion. Design a vigil that works for you and let us know when you're coming! We'll be grateful to stand next to you.

Sign up here to tell us about your intentions.

Your Group is Welcome!

Bring your book club, your family, your band! Do you practice something regularly with a group? Tai Chi? Knitting? Break-dancing? Samba? Saxaphone playing? Prayer? Yodeling? Whatever it is, gather your people at the Capitol and offer it up to the lake! Your passion + your presence at the vigil = an irreplaceable offering of love for our beloved water body. 

Sign up here to introduce your group and let us know when you’d like to join us. We’re so glad you are coming!

Four Agreements:

  1. Everyone is invited! The lake is calling us to transcend previous divides. No one will be excluded.
  2. Celebrate beyond-human species for their own sake. Signs are not necessary. No signs are needed for this show of presence. This vigil is a demonstration of love, not a protest.
  3. Quiet presence in the morning, celebratory music and singing in the evening.
  4. Do no harm. We practice non-violence and kindness. We will respect the land we are on, each day leaving things better than before we came.

Save the Date! Irreplaceable Poetry Reading on Saturday, February 3rd at Noon

Join us for this jam on the South steps of the capitol! Help us read the collective praise poem irreplaceable aloud as an offering to the lake. There are over 400 voices in this love letter to the lake. Add yours to the chorus!

The life of Great Salt Lake is inseparable from our own.

We gather to bear witness to her beauty. We gather to grieve. We gather to create beacons of possibility. We gather to increase our tenderness towards brine shrimp, microbialites, and winged citizens of the air. We gather to carry each other through spells of despair. We gather to revere all that is vital and alive.

Even as the active collapse of our ecosystem challenges our notions of hope, we devote ourselves to a future shaped by human reverence, humility, and reciprocity. Everything we do matters. In the face of this crisis, who will we become?

Principles of the Vigil

  1. Non-violence. This is a peaceful uprising in action and word.
  2. Devotion: We turn our hearts and faces towards the lake.
  3. Presence: We offer the lake our calm, steady presence. We are here to witness water and to listen.
  4. Acknowledgement: We acknowledge Indigenous lands and support Indigenous leadership.
  5. Repair & Restoration: We seek to repair harms we have done and to restore right relationship with water.
  6. Rights of Nature: We proclaim and uphold sovereign rights for Great Salt Lake and all water bodies.
  7. Beholding the Future: We dedicate our efforts to kin who are coming, human and beyond-human.
  8. Reverence: We cultivate a tender regard for all life forms: land forms, water bodies, elements, and species.

More Ways to Be Present with Great Salt Lake

  • Write with us! River Writing is a friendly, community-held writing practice. You don’t have to identify as a writer to participate. A great life is at stake and we stand together at a precipice. Your words matter. Details & registration.
  • Monday- Friday at 7am MST we host a 25 minute lake-facing meditation on zoom. Participate from wherever you are as we turn our hearts and faces to the lake in silence together. Register here
  • Write to Utah lawmakers and urge them to get water to the lake. Do not wait for legislative session. Write to them now to start a lake-facing conversation.
  • Follow the Vigil Keepers and Great Salt Lake celebrants with Nan on Instagram

Invitations for Utah Lawmakers

  • Get water to the lake this season.
  • Proclaim and uphold Great Salt Lake’s legal rights to live, flourish, and be restored. Acknowledge and protect personal rights for the lake that are at least on par with the personal rights of corporations.
  • Join us in the morning online for lake-centered meditation.
  • Proclaim and support a minimum lake level goal of at least 4200 feet above sea-level.
  • Permanently protect Bear River from any future development. Cease collecting sale tax for Bear River Development and other harmful water projects. Divert all existing funds to the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust.
  • Seek guidance from Indigenous leadership to repair our relationship with water.

Resources for Lake-facing People

Reading List

A Statement from Vigil Scientist-in Residence, Jaimi Butler:

“Great Salt Lake’s ecosystem is collapsing before our eyes. Increasing salt content and habitat loss in the main body of the lake are making it uninhabitable for the brine shrimp and flies that feed entire species of birds. The birds have no other place to move. We have no time left to prevent the dire ecosystem consequences wildlife and humans will experience over the coming years. It will take us decades of sustained effort to return enough water to the lake to restore habitat and rebalance salinity. Furthermore, we must commit to adaptive management in perpetuity. 

The amazing thing about our lake and its creatures is their resilience and flexibility within  a wide range of environmental conditions.  Brine shrimp release durable and long-lasting eggs, tiny living time capsules, which hatch when conditions are right. With optimal water conditions I don't think we could stop shrimp from repopulating the lake. Microorganisms become dormant when encased in salt and can re-animate when released. Even some bird populations have increased despite vastly increasing human populations. For me, the uncertainty lies in how the parts of the ecosystem will reassemble once we return water to the lake and if this new balance will support the vitality we have known in the past.  

Great Salt Lake remains full of possibilities. It is imperative for us to work together to get water to the lake for the wildlife and humans that live in this important ecosystem.”

Thank You! 

  • Wendy, Trish, and all the stewards of Antelope Island State Park. 
  • To the many members of the River Writing Community whose support and presence made both vigils possible and improbably joyful.
  • Therese Berry and Sarah May of Making Waves for Great Salt Lake for leading the community art builds that make our love for the lake visible!
  • Utah Humanities for your essential support.
  • John Meier and the filmmakers of PBS Utah for documenting this community offering to Great Salt Lake.
  • Rachel for loaning your camper in 2022 to give the vigil its first home, and Amanda and Pablo for offering yours to house the vigil in 2023