Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Mississippi River Case Study: Editor's Note

If you’re a regular user of YouTube or other video sites, you’ll likely find the four videos which follow this post (below) a bit underwhelming... if not downright boring. But I won't apologize for that. This footage was never designed for general consumption or entertainment; it was intended to provide a virtual tour of a river clean-up, and help people "grasp the task," if they happen to be considering such a project.

More specifically...

Over the past year, I've been contacted by several volunteer groups who were interested in doing a river clean-up. Sadly, after some considerable planning, one of the groups I spoke with decided to abandon the idea of a comprehensive clean-up day… and I'm convinced it was because they thought it might be too difficult or dangerous. There are certainly hazards that deserve our respect, and the task can be physically demanding. (And as you can see in the photo, you're probably going to get a little dirty.) But I believe this group backed-out because they over-estimated the challenge. I did my best to explain the terrain, the types of debris, and other aspects of the task. But there's nothing like a walk along the shoreline to help someone understand the challenge fully.

So, this fall, I decided to capture some footage of my work on a shoreline. Each of the videos in this four-part series comes from our Adoption Site #3, a 9.7-mile stretch of the north metro Mississippi River.

It is important for viewers to note that this video case study demonstrates the more difficult of river clean-ups that I took on this year. If your vision of a river clean-up is a leisurely stroll on a riverbank, carrying a garbage bag—grabbing an occasional plastic bottle, beverage cup or bait container—that’s good. KEEP that image, because a shoreline clean-up can be that easy. I’m using these videos to illustrate the more challenging stuff; the tires, scrap iron, and the unusual debris. In the future, I want to be able to show interested groups that even the bigger challenges on a river can be met.

Note one other distinction in these videos: I am working alone. As you watch the films, imagine how much more quickly and easily this work would have gone with another person. Or five. Or twenty-five.

I’ve published these clips in reverse order, so that as you scroll down from here, you’ll see them in the order they were captured. If you'd like to provide ideas, comments, questions: Send me an email.

Thanks for viewing these first video case studies with a forgiving eye. In 2009, I will shoot more video… of group activities, and even teams competing to do some good on the water. But for this initial series, I’m just inviting you to a one-person clean-up, which occurred on one day in September on the metro Mississippi. In doing so, these videos will serve as evidence to the truth of our fundamental theme:

Anyone, on any given day, has the power to improve a place.

© 2008 Mike D. Anderson, Crystal, MN.

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