The River Project logo, designed by Arroyo Arts Collective artist Pearl Beach, represents a river nymph known as a Naiad, a minor divinity in Greek mythology. Various provinces of nature were distinguished by various kinds of nymphs. The Naiads presided over rivers, streams, brooks, springs, fountains, lakes, ponds, wells, and marshes.
Our Naiad is surrounded by three key endangered species local to our region: In one hand is an arroyo toad, in the other a southern willow flycatcher. Leaping from the river is a steelhead trout. These were all once plentiful in our watershed. Because the steelhead trout inhabits an entire river ecosystem, and requires clean, cool water year-round, it serves as a vital “indicator species” of the overall health of the Southern California aquatic ecosystems and our coastal watersheds. If we once again have healthy runs of steelhead, we almost certainly have healthy rivers and streams.
The Naiad was intimately connected to her body of water and her very existence seems to have depended on it. If a stream dried up, its Naiad expired. The waters over which Naiads presided were thought to be endowed with inspirational, medicinal, or prophetic powers and the ancient Greeks frequently worshipped Naiads as divinities of healing, fertility and growth. The Naiads, as the goddesses of the nourishing water, were especially rich in favors, giving increase and fruitfulness to plants, herds, and mortals. Further, owing to the healing and inspiring power of many springs, they belong to the divinities of healing and prophesying, and can inspire men to prophetic and poetic inspiration. The Muses themselves are, in their origin, nymphs.