#TBT: Revisiting the Idea of the Mississippi River as a “Gardened” Landscape
Two years ago we were starting up the year-long project “Making the Mississippi: New Narratives for the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change.” We kicked off our work with a program by Dr. John Anfinson, historian and superintendent of the local Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. The post I wrote two years ago still rings true in many respects.
In fact, I think developments subsequent to Anfinson’s talk only make his points more powerful. The recent celebration of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service included many stories with warnings about how a changing climate will reshape iconic places. Another very significant set of questions about the next century of national parks concerns what populations will be using and championing these places. Currently, most park users are white, are older than middle-aged, and have higher incomes than national averages. Important efforts to diversify park users are being undertaken by groups such as Green Latino and Outdoor Afro, as well as by the National Park Service itself.
Still, a question we have to ask as we watch John Anfinson’s presentation is: Who will be the gardeners for the “Fourth Mississippi,” the gardened landscape?