The writing is on the water. In due time, however, it will be along the highways, too.

And, for that, you can thank the TECHE Project, whose mission is to create a Bayou Teche renaissance by raising awareness of the ecological, recreational and cultural values of the Bayou Teche Corridor.

For me, TECHE Project dovetails with the objectives of festivals in the area regarding our way of life. Conni Castille, executive director of the TECHE Project, concurs.

“Our local festivals showcase our culture, our foodways and our language and our music,” said Castille. “The TECHE Project’s mission and its members and partners showcase the value of the Bayou Teche and the lower Atchafalaya River and, again, showcase its cultural significance.”

But before I go on, keep in mind that the annual TECHE Project membership banquet is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Little Flower Auditorium, 102 Pine St. in Arnaudville. The $20 cost doubles as a membership fee. The banquet will have live music, dinner, libations and a no-longer-furloughed guest speaker, David Walther, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Our membership practically doubled since last year,” Castille said. “The concept is being embraced by all of our partners — monetary or in-kind.”

Those partners include local governments, communities, sponsors and members, and it’s a sign the project is catching on.

“Of course, our membership base growing significantly is another indicator that everyone’s kind of on board,” said Castille.

As it stands now, the project has signs throughout the 135-mile long Bayou Teche to let paddlers know where they are while in canoes and kayaks.

Likewise, signs on roadways will indicate floating docks “like brown park signs with a silhouetted canoe with somebody paddling” to direct those on the modern highways to the floating docks “to let them know they’re close to a National Water Trail.”

At some of the trailheads, you’ll also find floating docks between Port Barre and Berwick with information kiosks.

“One side is paddler information. The other side will be a storytelling about the town,” Castille said, adding that 10 to 12 more kiosks are planned. “The way to encourage visitors to go from one town to the other is to continue the storytelling. So each informational kiosk will have a story about the town.”

The project has a committee of folklorists, historians and naturalists who’ll write a draft of each town and send it to the town officials “for their input and approval and editing,” said Castille. “We want to write their narratives all together so that it connects the larger story of the Teche and it’s not redundant.”

Castille said the project wants the Bayou Teche story told in increments so it encourages people to continue driving or paddling to find out more information.

“So when you look at all 15 information kiosks, then you kind of get a book about the Teche,” Castille said. “Each of them is a chapter.”

Castille said the kiosks will also feature information on an indigenous plant, bird and animal.

It’s been nonstop for the nonprofit, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and Castille gives the volunteer members plenty of credit.

“There are tangible reasons and, of course, there’s that intangible that you become part of this stewardship of the bayou and what it represents,” she said. “It’s like continuing the legacy of the bayou. When the Teche Project was born 10 years ago, it was grass roots. It was dirty. There were refrigerators, cars, trash, and then that’s what started it all.”

In all, nearly 54 tons of garbage and debris, including oil drums, tires, bicycles, ice chests and bags of trash, have been removed. In 2012, the Teche was recognized as a National Water Trail by National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

TECHE Project’s community involvement is found with its Wood Duck Nest Box Program, the fundraising fete, the Shake Your Trail Feather Festival, information kiosks, bridge marker signs and other beneficial events for both the public and bayou.

“And now that it’s clean, we can actually do things,” said Castille. “Now we can start creating this low-impact, ecotourist destinations.”

Castille paused.

“It’s not just about tourists,” she said. “It’s really about ourselves, the locals.”

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