River Talk

Telling River Stories

The Story Boats in the RiverThere's an affinity between rivers and stories. The best stories flow like rivers; some of our best stories are about rivers; something about being on a river elicits stories. One of the best known stories in American literature is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and since Twain's time hundreds of people have tried their hand at telling their river story. 

Our web site Telling River Stories may not be as ambitious as Twain's account, but it does "aim high," if you will. Our stories show actual people, doing river-shaping work in actual places. The "actual" is important to us: this is not a "grand march of time" history site where users aren't really sure who did all that stuff. A good rule of thumb to think about what are "river stories" would be "the things you should know to understand the river in that spot." 

For example, "Navigating Our River Communities" tells of the work done by art student Anna Metcalfe in her work with the Minneapolis Green Team. The Green team is a group of disadvantaged Minneapolis youth who have been brought together in the summer to conduct habitat restoration work along the Mississippi. The young people, all high school students, undertake projects under the guidance of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the National Park Service, and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. The collaboration is modeled on work pioneered by the Community Design Center of Minnesota. All in all, this is amazing work that is a prime example of what's happening on our riverfronts today that will lead us into a more sustainable future.

So what do we hope for from the Telling River Stories (TRS) web site? The primary audience for the site is the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are working every day to make a more sustainable future for our riverfronts. We hope that you will come to the site, explore stories that interest you, and then continue to pursue information about the partners and projects that are described there. The TRS site is companion to the home site of the River Life program, which contains descriptions and links for the most innovative, far-reaching, and substantial projects, programs, and people engaged in all facets of river restoration. The map-based TRS site tells "where" the great work is happening; the River Life database shows who and what is involved in doing this great work. 

We hope to get your work included in our databases, so we can tell the world all about your successes. Get in touch with me at pdn@umn.edu and let's see what we can do!

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