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Five Years Ago, the Mississippi River was a top International News Story

August 2, 2012Patrick NunnallyFormer Featured PostsComments Off on Five Years Ago, the Mississippi River was a top International News Story

On August 1, 2007, shortly after 6 pm, the I-35W bridge carrying traffic across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13, injuring ten times that number, and leaving scars that remain visible today. The Minnesota Historical Society’s MNopedia project marked the anniversary with a tweet linking readers to broad-based coverage.

35W Bridge Remembrance Garden

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has published a shorter more focused list of key numbers, names, and dates.

Much discussion, and important policy changes concerning American transportation infrastructure, followed the bridge collapse.  Those discussions are recapped in a number of articles in the list above.But maybe what communities do best, and what certainly has a wide resonance of meaning, when faced with tragedy and commemoration is to make art.  “Commemoration” is, at its simplest, “co-memory,” remembering together.  As we have suggested often, the Mississippi River must be/is a “river of stories,” stories which now indelibly include this once-innocuous river crossing.

Commemorative works marking the anniversary on August 1 included publication of a poetry collection, a photography exhibition, an installation of oversized life rings in the river, and a multi-media event at the nearby Mill City Museum.

Of course it’s a shame that tragedy inspires such an outpouring of artistic effort.  But art responds to many stimuli.  Also on August 1, the community collaborative Works Progress co-sponsored River City Revue in St. Paul, which included this (lifted from @works_progress on Twitter:  

@works_progress “The wicked river is more misunderstood than really, truly wicked.” – St. Anthony Falls Laboratory #RiverCityRevue http://pic.twitter.com/PsTozkGb

Wicked?  No.  Tragic?  Sometimes. Memorable?  Always.

A River of Stories

 

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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.