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Innovative Journey Highlights Diverse “Life Along the Mississippi”

March 18, 2010Patrick NunnallyRiversComments Off on Innovative Journey Highlights Diverse “Life Along the Mississippi”

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is easily the best-known Mississippi River journey, but it is by no means the only account of life on and along the Great River. Even before Twain’s book appeared in the 1880s, travel narratives of journeys along the river were staples of European and American literature. Since that point, hundreds of would-be authors have taken all manner of boats (well, some hardly qualify as “boat”) down the Mississippi, wanting to write about their experiences.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is perhaps the most recent entrant in this veritable library of travel narratives, and its “virtual trip” is certainly one of the best. TNC’s Great Rivers partnership “is an ambitious effort to conserve and restore the world’s great river systems for the benefit of the people and species that depend upon them for life.”

In January, a virtual 13 day journey was posted allowing visitors to the site to become acquainted with some of the variety of human and animal life along the river.

The journey is well worth a visit, for both “newbie” and “river rat” alike. Slide shows and occasional short video segments offer users a sampling of river voices. Sidebars, maps, and “fact sheets” create just a glimmer of how complex and enormous the river really is.

The Mississippi’s stories are as old as the world and bigger than any of us can imagine. The World Wide Web and proliferating ways of conveying digital information through video, photographs, maps, narration, and simple data, all offer ways of storytelling that match the complexity of the river itself.

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Send us a note at rvrlife@umn.edu to make suggestions for other places we should look, media to track, and stories to tell!
River Life in Video
Come Along for a Water Walk with Kare11 and River Life, and see Gifts at Work: The Mississippi River by the University of Minnesota Foundation
Open Rivers: Rethinking the Mississippi
A joint project of River Life, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal that recognizes the Mississippi River as a space for timely and critical conversations about people, community, water, and place.