River Talk

Imagining the Mississippi Gorge: Art, Science, and Community

A week ago, over 90 people gathered on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota to participate in a presentation and panel discussion that invited them to "re-imagine" the Mississippi River Gorge, that stretch of the Mississippi passing through the campus. The Gorge is the only true, geological, gorge on the entire Mississippi; it has long excited particular interest of landscape architects, painters, photographers, and the thousands of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers who use the parkways on both sides. 

Lately, the Gorge has been the source of much public debate about its future. Locks and dams at both ends have changed the character of the water from the rushing rapids that 19th century explorers found to today's rather placid pool. "What if the dams were removed?" people have wondered. "Are there any ways to recapture some of the ecological functions of the past?"

There may be, but the actual ecological restoration is a number of years away, even in the most active scenarios. In the meantime, the combination of scientific description and analysis, community will and passion, and aesthetic imagination will point us in a direction where the future of the Gorge is more truly a broad-based community asset.

For video of much of the event, you can view them at the bottom of this post or go to the Web site of the Institute for Advanced Study, co-sponsor of the event as part of its "Thursdays at Four" series The Institute on the Environment also co-sponsored the event.


Introductory remarks by moderator, Pat Nunnally.


Presentation by biologist, Chris Lenhart.


Presentation by artist, Christine Baeumler.


Presentation by Park Board Member, Scott Vreeland.


Mona Smith, Chris Lenhart, Christine Baeumler, Scott Vreeland, and moderator Pat Nunnally answer questions about their presentations.

  The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily
  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.