University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The Nile Project (2015)

The Nile ProjectThe Mississippi River is inarguably one of the great rivers of the world. Another on the “short list” of the world’s greatest rivers is the Nile. The Nile’s best known association is with Egypt, but the Nile basin drains all or part of 11 countries in eastern Africa. The cultures, political structures, and water management needs of these countries vary widely, and with a population that is expected to double in the next few decades, water conflict issues are rapidly emerging in this part of the world.

The Nile Project is a project that addresses water and civic engagement challenges through music. Musicians from all 11 countries in the basin have combined to create work that reflects contributions from all of them, despite the substantial differences in musical traditions from among the countries. Making and hearing music creates connection among diverse people; connections that will be vital in the years ahead.

This video was made in February 2015 when Mina Girgis, co-founder and executive director of the Nile Project, visited the class “Living with the Mississippi River,” offered through the University of Minnesota’s Honors Program and facilitated by River Life’s Pat Nunnally. Girgis was on campus as part of the Nile Project’s 2015 United States tour. Girgis gives the background and rationale for the Nile Project and discusses the processes by which its collaborative music is developed. Pay attention for his mention of possible university “chapters” associated with the Nile Project, and for the concept of a “sister rivers” relationship between the Nile and the Mississippi!

Healing Place Workshop (2015)

Healing PlaceThis workshop explored program possibilities between the Healing Place Collaborative and programs at the Institute for Advanced Study. The Healing Place Collaborative is a project that explores and expresses the healing connections among people and place.

Historically, the river area of the Twin Cities has been a place of healing, conversation and transformation; It has also been the site of cultural trauma and environmental degradation. We want to explore how this place provides a source of healing for individuals and for a fractured society, how people can help to repair a place in need of healing and how the place can help to heal the people. Both the river and the society it has engendered need healing.

The Healing Place Collaborative is grounding its approach to repairing community, river, and relationship in the Dakota concept of “bdote.” This word means a confluence of waters (in this case, the Mississippi and Minnesota) but also confluence in general. We encourage a confluence of interests among people who recognize that the River is important to creating a healthy community, and that a community-wide effort is needed to heal our River.

The purpose of this workshop was exploration: Partners considered what it means in their particular work to start with the indigenous, consider healing, and focus on the place (the river areas of the Minneapolis-St. Paul region). What are we doing individually, and as associated small groups? What might we do together in 2015, 2016,and beyond?

Event hosted by River Life as a part of the John E. Sawyer Seminar : “Making the Mississippi: Formulating new water narratives for the 21st century and beyond.” For more information on the Sawyer Seminar, please visit

Download: Healing Place Workshop Flyer

This video features students from the Wicoie Nandagikendan Early Childhood Immersion Program welcoming us in Dakota and Ojibwe.

Contact Us!
Send us a note at 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.